why does australia have unique flora and fauna
2. 5 million square kilometres of incredible biodiversity
While Western Australia covers one third of the Australian continent, over half of the nationвs biodiversity hotspots and a significant percentage of its unique flora and fauna thrive here. As well as being home to iconic Australian animals, such as red kangaroos and crocodiles, WA has 141 of Australiaвs 207 mammal species, 439 reptile species, 1,600 fish species and more than 12,000 species of wildflowers в making it the largest collection of wildflowers in the world. Along 12,500 kilometres of mainland coastline, as well as islands and archipelagos, youвll encounter, migrating and some of the most diverse marine environments on Earth. In fact, one of 18 global hotspots of coral reef diversity stretches hundreds of kilometres from World Heritage listed (the worldвs largest fringing reef) and, to near. Ningaloo and Shark Bay bring you breathtakingly close to turtles, dugongs, reef sharks, manta rays and the largest fish in the ocean, the. WAвs forests evolved in geographic isolation, which means much of its flora and fauna is found nowhere else on Earth, including the jarrah, karri, marri, tingle and tuart trees and many of the Stateвs. The national parks of, and the offer windows to these unique forest habitats, not to mention rare Australian wildlife and one of the worldвs 36 biodiversity hotspots. See for more information. In the central heart of WA lies в the largest expanse of outback in the country. Here, wide-open desert landscapes and plunging gorges provide natural habitats for a vast array of wildflowers and wildlife, from red and western grey kangaroos to the Stateвs rare national emblem, the numbat.
Dawn and dusk are when Australian animals are at their most active, but any time of day is good for going crocodile spotting in the Kimberley with an experienced tour guide. Visit the page to find out more. Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing, a point driven home by on the Great Barrier Reef. Yet among this growing destruction there is a degree of resilience to climate change, as Australian animals and plants evolve and adapt. Some of this resilience is genetic, at the DNA level. Natural selection favours forms of genes that help organisms withstand hotter and drier conditions more effectively. Over time, the environmental selection for certain forms of genes over others leads to genetic changes. These genetic changes can be complex, involving many genes interacting together, but they are sufficient to make organisms highly tolerant to extreme conditions. Some of this resilience is unrelated to DNA. These are БplasticБ changes Б temporary changes in organismsБ physical and biochemical functions that help them deal with adverse conditions or shifts in the timing of environmental events. Plastic changes occur more quickly than genetic changes but are not permanent Б the organisms return to their previous state once the environment shifts back. These changes also may not be enough to protect organisms from even more extreme climates. What about Australia? In Australia there is evidence of both genetic and plastic adaptation. Some of the under climate change have been in vinegar flies on the east coast of Australia.
These flies have a gene that encodes the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase. This gene has two major forms: the tropical form and the temperate form. Over the past 30 years, the tropical form of the gene has become more common at the expense of the temperate one. Plastic adaptation due to climate change has been demonstrated in common brown butterflies in southern Australia. as higher temperatures have been speeding up their growth and development by 1. 6 days every decade. According to overseas research, this faster development allows butterfly caterpillars to take advantage of. Higher temperatures are causing the common brown butterflies in southern Australia to come out of their cocoons earlier. , In many cases, it is not clear if the adaptation is genetic or plastic. over the the past 100 years. Usually, when comparing birds of the same species, birds from the tropics are smaller than those from temperate areas. In several widespread species, however, the birds from temperate areas have recently become smaller. This might be the direct result of environmental changes or a consequence of natural selection on the genes that affect size. In the case of long-lived species like eucalypts, it is hard to see any adaptive changes. However, there is evidence from experimental plots that eucalypts have the potential to adapt. Different eucalypt species from across Australia were planted together in experimental forestry plots located in various environments. These plots have unwittingly become climate change adaptation experiments.
By monitoring the plots, we can identify species that are better at. Plot results together with other forms of indicate that some trees unexpectedly grow and survive much better, and are therefore likely to survive into the future. WhatБs next? We still have much to learn about the resilience of our flora and fauna. There will always be species with low resilience or slow adaptive ability. Nevertheless, plastic and genetic changes can provide some resilience, which will change the predictions of likely losses in biodiversity. Much like how our worst weeds and pests adapted to local climate conditions, as, our local plants and animals will also adapt. Species with short generation times Б a short time between one generation (the parent) and the next (the offspring) Б are able to adapt more quickly than species with longer lifespans and generation times. For species with short generation times, suggest that the ability to adapt may help reduce the impacts of climate change and decrease local extinction rates. However, species with long generation times and species that cannot easily move to more habitable environments continue to have a high risk of extinction under climate change. In those cases, management strategies, such as helpful for surviving extreme conditions and to locations to which they are better adapted, can help species survive. Unfortunately, this means doing more than simply protecting nature, the hallmark of our biodiversity strategy to date. We need to act quickly to help our animals and plants adapt and survive.
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