Southeast Australia temperate savanna

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The Southeast Australia temperate savanna ecoregion is a large area of grassland dotted with eucalyptus trees running north-south across central New South Wales, Australia.

Ecoregion Ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a bioregion

An ecoregion is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a bioregion, which in turn is smaller than an ecozone. All three of these are either less or greater than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural communities and species. The biodiversity of flora, fauna and ecosystems that characterise an ecoregion tends to be distinct from that of other ecoregions. In theory, biodiversity or conservation ecoregions are relatively large areas of land or water where the probability of encountering different species and communities at any given point remains relatively constant, within an acceptable range of variation.

<i>Eucalyptus</i> genus of plants

Eucalyptus L'Héritier 1789 is a diverse genus of flowering trees and shrubs in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. Members of the genus dominate the tree flora of Australia, and include Eucalyptus regnans, the tallest known flowering plant on Earth. Australia is covered by 92,000,000 hectares of eucalypt forest, comprising three quarters of the area covered by native forest.

New South Wales state of Australia

New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Tasman Sea to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In March 2018, the population of New South Wales was over 7.9 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.1 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.

Contents

Location and description

It is a dry area of low hills and valleys of which the southern section is the wheat-growing plain known as the Riverina and the northern section is low hills and plains mostly used for grazing sheep running north to the plains of the Darling River basin and the New South Wales–Queensland border. Rivers of the savanna include the Murray River and the Murrumbidgee in the south and the Darling River in the north. Rainfall is low and irregular, from 300–500 mm per year becoming less the further westward and inland you go.

Riverina Region in New South Wales, Australia

The Riverina is an agricultural region of South-Western New South Wales (NSW), Australia. The Riverina is distinguished from other Australian regions by the combination of flat plains, warm to hot climate and an ample supply of water for irrigation. This combination has allowed the Riverina to develop into one of the most productive and agriculturally diverse areas of Australia. Bordered on the south by the state of Victoria and on the east by the Great Dividing Range, the Riverina covers those areas of New South Wales in the Murray and Murrumbidgee drainage zones to their confluence in the west.

Queensland North-east state of Australia

Queensland is the second-largest and third-most populous state in the Commonwealth of Australia. Situated in the north-east of the country, it is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean. To its north is the Torres Strait, with Papua New Guinea located less than 200 km across it from the mainland. The state is the world's sixth-largest sub-national entity, with an area of 1,852,642 square kilometres (715,309 sq mi).

Murray River the longest river in Australia

The Murray River is Australia's longest river, at 2,508 kilometres (1,558 mi) in length. The Murray rises in the Australian Alps, draining the western side of Australia's highest mountains, and then meanders across Australia's inland plains, forming the border between the states of New South Wales and Victoria as it flows to the northwest into South Australia. It turns south at Morgan for its final 315 kilometres (196 mi), reaching the ocean at Lake Alexandrina.

Flora

The dry climate sustains hardy shrubs and grasses scattered with small patches of the bimble box and coolibah eucalyptus trees that once covered most of this part of Australia. The Riverina area nearer the coast contains red river gum and black box.

<i>Eucalyptus populnea</i> species of plant

Eucalyptus populnea, commonly known as poplar box or Bimble box is an endemic tree of Australia. It is found in central and coastal Queensland to central New South Wales. It can reach up to 25 metres tall and forms extensive open-forest communities in arid and semi-arid regions. The species is characterised by glossy, rounded dark green leaves.

<i>Eucalyptus coolabah</i> species of plant

Eucalyptus coolabah, commonly known as coolibah, is a eucalypt of riparian zones and is found throughout Australia from arid inland to coastal regions. The plant is commonly called coolibah or coolabah, the name being a loanword from the Indigenous Australian Yuwaaliyaay word, gulabaa.

<i>Eucalyptus camaldulensis</i> species of plant

Eucalyptus camaldulensis, the river red gum, is a tree of the genus Eucalyptus. It is one of around 800 species within the genus. It is a plantation species in many parts of the world, but is native to Australia, where it has the most widespread natural distribution of Eucalyptus in Australia, especially beside inland water courses. It is named for a private estate garden near the Camaldoli monastery near Naples, from where the first specimen came to be described. Material from this tree was used by Frederick Dehnhardt, Chief Gardener at the Botanic Gardens in Naples, to describe this species in 1832.

The effect of massive numbers of sheep on the grassland was dramatic and was noted by settlers in the grassland regions. The original soil of the grasslands was soft and absorbed rain readily, but heavy continuous stock grazing drove a degradation sequence that shifted the botanical composition of native grasslands from an ecosystem regulated by large, perennial tussock grasses such as Themeda triandra (Kangaroo Grass) to one containing abundant disturbance tolerant native grasses such as Rytidosperma spp. [1]

Fauna

These grasslands are the western limit for much of the wildlife that lives here as further west is desert. Wildlife of the savanna includes mammals such as the mouse-like kultarr marsupial (Antechinomys laniger), tiger quoll (Dasyurus maculatus), and brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata). The western barred bandicoot (Perameles bougainville fasciata) and bridled nail-tail wallaby that once lived here are now presumed extinct in New South Wales. Birds include the endangered bush stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius), superb parrot (Polytelis swainsonii), red goshawk (Erythrotriorchis radiatus), malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata) and plains-wanderer (Pedionomus torquatus), and reptiles include an endangered skink Anomalopus mackayi . The Riverina grasslands are home to birds such as the freckled duck, and wintering populations of swift parrot (Lathamus discolor).

Kultarr species of mammal

The kultarr is a small insectivorous nocturnal marsupial inhabiting the arid interior of Australia. Preferred habitat includes stony deserts, shrubland, woodland, grassland and opens plains. The kultarr has a range of adaptations to help cope with Australia’s harsh arid environment including torpor similar to hibernation that helps conserve energy The species has declined across its former range since European settlement due to changes in land management practices and introduced predators.

Tiger quoll carnivorous marsupial native to Australia

The tiger quoll, also known as the spotted-tail quoll, the spotted quoll, the spotted-tail dasyure or the tiger cat, is a carnivorous marsupial of the quoll genus Dasyurus native to Australia. With males and females weighing around 3.5 and 1.8 kg, respectively, it is mainland Australia's largest carnivorous marsupial, and the world's longest extant carnivorous marsupial. Two subspecies are recognised; the nominate is found in wet forests of southeastern Australia and Tasmania, and a northern subspecies, D. m. gracilis, is found in a small area of northern Queensland and is endangered.

Brush-tailed rock-wallaby species of mammal

The brush-tailed rock-wallaby or small-eared rock-wallaby is a kind of wallaby, one of several rock-wallabies in the genus Petrogale. It inhabits rock piles and cliff lines along the Great Dividing Range from about 100 km north-west of Brisbane to northern Victoria, in vegetation ranging from rainforest to dry sclerophyl forests. Populations have declined seriously in the south and west of its range, but it remains locally common in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland.

Threats and preservation

Active preservation of habitats is required because much of the savanna has been converted to pasture or wheatland. This is particularly so in the Riverina where most has been cleared for wheat planting, a process that is ongoing, while the grasslands are vulnerable to overgrazing, and rivers including the Murray and Murrumbidgee are depleted by being water sources for large irrigation projects. As land is cleared it becomes habitat for invasive species such as noisy miner bird (Manorina melanophrys) and Australian raven (Corvus coronoides). The main protected area is the steep volcanic outcrops of Warrumbungle National Park. There are small areas of parkland elsewhere and plans to create more, [2] but there are no large areas of original savanna under protection. [3]

Noisy miner A bird in the honeyeater family from eastern Australia

The noisy miner is a bird in the honeyeater family, Meliphagidae, and is endemic to eastern and south-eastern Australia. This miner is a grey bird, with a black head, orange-yellow beak and feet, a distinctive yellow patch behind the eye and white tips on the tail feathers. The Tasmanian race has a more intense yellow panel in the wing, and a broader white tip to the tail. Males, females and juveniles are similar in appearance, though young birds are a brownish-grey. As the common name suggests, the noisy miner is a vocal species with a large range of songs, calls, scoldings and alarms, and almost constant vocalisations particularly from young birds. One of four species in the genus Manorina, the noisy miner itself is divided into four subspecies. The separation of the Tasmanian M. m. leachi is of long standing, and the mainland birds were further split in 1999.

Australian raven passerine bird in the genus Corvus native to much of Southern and Northeastern Australia

The Australian raven is a passerine bird in the genus Corvus native to much of southern and northeastern Australia. Measuring 46–53 centimetres (18–21 in) in length, it has all-black plumage, beak and mouth, as well as strong grey-black legs and feet. The upperparts are glossy, with a purple, blue, or green sheen, and its black feathers have grey bases. The Australian raven is distinguished from the Australian crow species by its throat hackles, which are prominent in adult birds. Older adult individuals have white irises, younger adults have white irises with an inner blue rim, while younger birds have dark brown irises until fifteen months of age, and hazel irises with an inner blue rim around each pupil until age two years and ten months. Nicholas Aylward Vigors and Thomas Horsfield described the Australian raven in 1827, its species name (coronoides) highlighting its similarity with the carrion crow. Two subspecies are recognized, which differ slightly in calls and are quite divergent genetically.

Warrumbungle National Park Protected area in New South Wales, Australia

Warrumbungle National Park is a heritage listed national park located in the Orana region of New South Wales, Australia. The national park is located approximately 550 kilometres (340 mi) northwest of Sydney and contained within 23,311 hectares. The park attracts approximately 35,000 visitors per annum.

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Barkly Tableland Region in the Northern Territory, Australia

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Mongolian-Manchurian grassland

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Queanbeyan Nature Reserve Protected area in New South Wales, Australia

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Argentine Monte

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Patagonian grasslands

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Cumberland Plain Woodland

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References

  1. Williams, Nicholas; Marshall, Adrian; Morgan, John, eds. (2015). Land of Sweeping Plains. CSIRO Publishing. ISBN   9781486300815.
  2. Hodgkins, D., D. Goldney, G. Watson, and G. Tyson. 2000. The attitudes of landholders to a range of environmental issues, including the values of remnant bushland in the central western region of New South Wales. Pages 336–350 in R. J. Hobbs and C. J. Yates, editors. Temperate Eucalypt Woodlands in Australia: biology, conservation, management, and restoration. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, New South Wales, Australia
  3. "Southeast Australia temperate savanna". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.