Wednesday, 11 August 2010

What is a biodiversity hotspot?

By Stanley and Kaisa Breeden

Through fortuitous combinations of nature’s landscape building, climate and the movement of living organisms over the long history of the planet, some places are more richly endowed with species of plants and animals than others. These are biodiversity hotspots. Their variety of life does not always to extend to all groups of plants and animals within them. In New Guinea, it is rich with birds of paradise, in Madagascar chameleons, in the Himalayas rhododendrons and so on.

Places in the world that have exceptional biodiversity and at the same time are under threat have been designated International Biodiversity Hotspots. There are two in Australia—the southwest corner and the Wet Tropics in the northeast.

In the southwest there grow one of the world’s most varied and spectacular assemblages of wildflowers. In fact there are more species of plants here than in the tropical rainforest of the northeast. But the northeast has a variety of insects, frogs, ferns and others is far greater than anywhere else on the continent.

When visiting such special places, by absorbing all you see and feel around you, you can sense just how varied, beautiful and exciting all life is. You can lose yourself in contemplating the flight of butterflies, the colours and shapes of wildflowers, the fluid movements of ringtail possums, giant trees towering high up above you, little flowers pressed close to the ground… When you do you soon feel a part of nature, involved with life.

It is a mistake, however, to think you can have those experiences only in hotspots. Any wild place in Australia teeming with life. You don’t need a field guide, just the experience itself.
Stanley and Kaisa Breeden will be in Perth for the launch of Wildflower Country on 18 August 2010 and for a UWA Extension Course on 19 August 2010. More information:

A larger than life outdoor macro macro exhibition of their photos will be on display throughout the month of September as part of the Kings Park Festival.

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