Evolving in geographic isolation, the Terrestrial Biodiversity (all ‘land-based’ life-forms: plants, animals, micro-organisms) of the SWCC Region is some of the most unique in the country, if not the world.
The SWCC Region is located within the South West Biodiversity Hotspot (stretching diagonally from Geraldton to the east of Esperance) which is one of 35 global biodiversity hotspots[noteVictoria, L. (2015). The South West: Australia’s biodiversity hotspot Crawley, Western Australia. Crawley: UWA Publishing.[/note].
This South West Biodiversity Hotspot has 8379 native vascular plants (species + subspecies), 47% (3911) of which are endemic (found nowhere else on the planet)1. A staggering amount when compared to England, where the land mass is proportionate to the South West but there are only 1500 native vascular plants species and a mere 3% are endemi2.
The South West is synonymous with wilderness, giant forests, and spectacular coastlines. This area also has many unique and endemic animals, like the Numbat and the Western Ringtail Possum.
The South West’s uniqueness along with its threats is what attracts the global hotspot status. This status is only awarded to places with extraordinarily high concentrations of endemic species, but also where these species are undergoing severe loss of habitat.
Services and values
Biodiversity is important for many services and values such as the following:
- Climate regulation
- Oxygen production
- Habitat for species
- Recreation, tourism and leisure
- Nutrient cycling (important for regulation of natural and agricultural systems)
- Pollination (important for native plant reproduction and agricultural crop production)
- Erosion control
- Cultural / spiritual
- Clearing of native vegetation (past, present and future clearing)
- Rainfall reduction resulting from Climate Change
- Phytophthora Dieback (an introduced plant-root pathogen affecting 40% of native species)
- Climate change and heat stress
- Invasive plants and feral animals
Links and further reading
- Department of Parks and Wildlife Biodiversity Audit II : WA state-wide snapshot of biodiversity knowledge, conservation priorities, research needs, management options
- Land for Wildlife is a voluntary conservation program to encourage and assist private landholders to provide habitats for wildlife on their property.
- Search Western Australian flora using Florabase
- Do you own search for species in your area using Nature Map
- Department of Parks and Wildlife Threatened and Priority Flora for further information
- Atlas of Living Australia (aggregated geographic information database on all known Australian species)
- The Conversation’s Australia’s south west: a hotspot for wildlife and plants that deserves World Heritage status
- Gioia, P. and Hopper, S. (2017). A new phytogeographic map for the Southwest Australian Floristic Region after an exceptional decade of collection and discovery. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 184(1), pp.1-15.
- Bradshaw, D. and Lambers, H. (n.d.). Australia’s south west: a hotspot for wildlife and plants that deserves World Heritage status. [online] The Conversation. Available at: https://theconversation.com/australias-south-west-a-hotspot-for-wildlife-and-plants-that-deserves-world-heritage-status-54885 [Accessed 29 Mar. 2018].