Southwest Australia
Southwest Australia is a biodiversity hotspot
Biodiversity hotspot
A biodiversity hotspot is a biogeographic region with a significant reservoir of biodiversity that is under threat from humans.The concept of biodiversity hotspots was originated by Norman Myers in two articles in “The Environmentalist” , revised after thorough analysis by Myers and others in...

 that includes the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub
Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub
Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome, defined by the World Wildlife Fund, characterized by dry summers and rainy winters. Summers are typically hot in low-lying inland locations but can be cool near some seas, as near San Francisco, which have a sea of cool waters...

An ecoregion , sometimes called a bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural...

s of Western Australia
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

. The region has a wet-winter, dry-summer Mediterranean climate
Mediterranean climate
A Mediterranean climate is the climate typical of most of the lands in the Mediterranean Basin, and is a particular variety of subtropical climate...

, one of five such regions in the world. The region covers 356,717 km², consisting of a broad coastal plain 20-120 kilometers wide, transitioning to gently undulating uplands made up of weathered granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

, gneiss
Gneiss is a common and widely distributed type of rock formed by high-grade regional metamorphic processes from pre-existing formations that were originally either igneous or sedimentary rocks.-Etymology:...

 and laterite
Laterites are soil types rich in iron and aluminium, formed in hot and wet tropical areas. Nearly all laterites are rusty-red because of iron oxides. They develop by intensive and long-lasting weathering of the underlying parent rock...

. Desert and xeric shrubland
Deserts and xeric shrublands
Deserts and xeric shrublands is a biome characterized by, relating to, or requiring only a small amount of moisture.-Definition and occurrence:...

s lie to the north and east across the centre of Australia, separating Southwest Australia from the other Mediterranean and humid-climate regions of the continent.

Vegetation in the region is mainly woody, including forest
A forest, also referred to as a wood or the woods, is an area with a high density of trees. As with cities, depending where you are in the world, what is considered a forest may vary significantly in size and have various classification according to how and what of the forest is composed...

s, woodland
Ecologically, a woodland is a low-density forest forming open habitats with plenty of sunlight and limited shade. Woodlands may support an understory of shrubs and herbaceous plants including grasses. Woodland may form a transition to shrubland under drier conditions or during early stages of...

s, shrubland
Shrubland, scrubland, scrub or brush is a plant community characterized by vegetation dominated by shrubs, often also including grasses, herbs, and geophytes. Shrubland may either occur naturally or be the result of human activity...

s, and heathlands, but no grassland
Grasslands are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses and other herbaceous plants . However, sedge and rush families can also be found. Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica...

s. Predominant vegetation types are Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus is a diverse genus of flowering trees in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. Members of the genus dominate the tree flora of Australia...

woodlands, eucalyptus-dominated Mallee
Mallee Woodlands and Shrublands
Mallee Woodlands and Shrublands is a Major Vegetation Group which occurs in semi-arid areas of southern Australia. The vegetation is dominated by mallee eucalypts which are rarely over 6 metres high...

 shrublands, and kwongan
Kwongan is a type of heathland found on the coastal plains of Western Australia. The name is derived from the language of the Noongar people. Kwongan comprises floristically-rich heath with dense thickets of sclerophyllous shrubs and isolated small trees...

 shrublands and heathlands, which correspond to the chaparral
Chaparral is a shrubland or heathland plant community found primarily in the U.S. state of California and in the northern portion of the Baja California peninsula, Mexico...

, matorral
Matorral is a Spanish word, along with tomillares, for shrubland, thicket or bushes. It is used in naming and describing a Mediterranean climate ecosystem in Southern Europe.-Mediterranean region:...

, maquis
Maquis shrubland
thumb|220px|Low Maquis in Corsica.220px|thumb|High macchia in Sardinia.Maquis or macchia is a shrubland biome in the Mediterranean region, typically consisting of densely growing evergreen shrubs such as holm oak, tree heath, strawberry tree, sage, juniper, buckthorn, spurge olive and myrtle...

, and fynbos
Fynbos is the natural shrubland or heathland vegetation occurring in a small belt of the Western Cape of South Africa, mainly in winter rainfall coastal and mountainous areas with a Mediterranean climate...

 shrublands found in other Mediterranean-type regions. The region has generally nutrient-poor sandy or lateritic soils, which has encouraged rich speciation
Speciation is the evolutionary process by which new biological species arise. The biologist Orator F. Cook seems to have been the first to coin the term 'speciation' for the splitting of lineages or 'cladogenesis,' as opposed to 'anagenesis' or 'phyletic evolution' occurring within lineages...

 of plants adapted to specific ecological niches. The region hosts a great diversity of endemic
Endemic (ecology)
Endemism is the ecological state of being unique to a defined geographic location, such as an island, nation or other defined zone, or habitat type; organisms that are indigenous to a place are not endemic to it if they are also found elsewhere. For example, all species of lemur are endemic to the...

 species, notably among the protea family (Proteaceae
Proteaceae is a family of flowering plants distributed in the Southern Hemisphere. The family comprises about 80 genera with about 1600 species. Together with the Platanaceae and Nelumbonaceae they make up the order Proteales. Well known genera include Protea, Banksia, Embothrium, Grevillea,...


Botanic province

The region corresponds to the floristic province
Floristic province
A phytochorion, in phytogeography, is a geographic area with a relatively uniform composition of plant species. Adjacent phytochoria do not usually have a sharp boundary, but rather a soft one, a transitional area in which many species from both regions overlap...

 of Southwest Australia. The World Wide Fund for Nature
World Wide Fund for Nature
The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States...

 and Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia
Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia
The Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia is a biogeographic regionalisation of Australia developed by the Australian Government's Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts...

 (IBRA) divide the region up into a number of ecoregions:
  • Coolgardie woodlands (IBRA Coolgardie
    Coolgardie (biogeographic region)
    Coolgardie is an Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia region and a World Wildlife Fund ecoregion consisting of an area of low hills and plains of infertile sandy soil in Western Australia. -Location and description:...

  • Esperance mallee
    Esperance mallee
    Esperance Mallee is a World Wide Fund for Nature ecoregion on the south coast of Western Australia, a coastal strip where the predominant vegetation consists of short eucalyptus trees and shrubs.-Location and description:...

     (IBRA Esperance Plains
    Esperance Plains
    Esperance Plains, also known as Eyre Botanical District, is a biogeographic region in southern Western Australia. Located on the south coast between the Avon Wheatbelt and Hampton regions, and bordered to the north by the Mallee region, it is a plain punctuated by granite and quartz outcrops and...

    and Mallee
    Mallee (biogeographic region)
    Mallee, also known as Roe Botanical District, is a biogeographic region in southern Western Australia. Located between the Esperance Plains, Avon Wheatbelt and Coolgardie regions, it has a low, gently undulating topography, a semi-arid mediterranean climate, and extensive Eucalyptus mallee...

  • Jarrah-Karri forest and shrublands (IBRA Warren
    Warren (biogeographic region)
    Warren, also known as Karri Forest Region and the Jarrah-Karri forest and shrublands ecoregion, is a biogeographic region in southern Western Australia. Located in the southwest corner of Western Australia between Cape Naturaliste and Albany, it is bordered to the north and east by the Jarrah...

  • Kwongan heathlands (IBRA Swan Coastal Plain
    Swan Coastal Plain
    The Swan Coastal Plain in Western Australia is the geographic feature which contains the Swan River as it travels west to the Indian Ocean. The coastal plain continues well beyond the boundaries of the Swan River and its tributaries, as a geological and biological zone, one of Western Australia's...

  • Southwest Australia savanna
    Southwest Australia savanna
    Southwest Australia savanna is an ecoregion in Western Australia.-Location and description:This dry region is a belt between the Mediterranean climate of the southwest corner and the semi-arid sandplains inland and to the north...

     (IBRA Geraldton Sandplains
    Geraldton Sandplains
    Geraldton Sandplains is an Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia region in Western Australia and part of the larger Southwest Australia savanna ecoregion.It has two sub regions: -* Geraldton Hills sub region* Lesuer sub region...

    , Avon Wheatbelt
    Avon Wheatbelt
    Avon Wheatbelt is an Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia region in Western Australia and part of the larger Southwest Australia savanna ecoregion.-Further reading:...

    , and Yalgoo
    Yalgoo (biogeographic region)
    Yalgoo is an Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia region in Western Australia and part of the larger Southwest Australia savanna ecoregion.In the IBRA system it has the code of , and it has two sub-regions:...

  • Southwest Australia woodlands (IBRA Jarrah Forest
    Jarrah Forest
    Jarrah Forest is an Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia region in Western Australia.-Location and description:The ecoregion stands on the 300m high Yilgarn block inland plateau and includes wooded valleys such as those of Western Australia's Murray River and the Helena River near...


(note Yalgoo and Mallee lie within the South West under the WWF scheme, but are considered part of the Central Australian or Eremaean Region by the Western Australian Herbarium)

Further reading

  • Thackway, R and I D Cresswell (1995) An interim biogeographic regionalisation for Australia : a framework for setting priorities in the National Reserves System Cooperative Program Version 4.0 Canberra : Australian Nature Conservation Agency, Reserve Systems Unit, 1995. ISBN 0642213712

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.