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Introduced species in a wilderness area


Tony Kennedy

A teacher with a passion in getting our younger generation involved in looking after the environment, getting to know other people by learning languages, and getting outdoors.

Bush Blitz is Australia’s largest nature discovery program. It documents plants and animals across Australia. The program began in 2010 and since then over 1700 new species have been added to taxonomic records. A thorough knowledge of the taxonomy of our biodiversity ensures that we have accurate records for generations to come.

There are an estimated 580,000 - 680,000 species in Australia, but three-quarters of this biodiversity is yet to be identified. Forty-five per cent of the Australian landmass and over ninety per cent of our marine area have never been comprehensively biologically surveyed.

Like geological formations, the biosphere - the parts of the Earth where life exists -changes over time. Of the species native to Australia ,many have been lost because of fire, disease, and climatic changes.
For example, Eucalyptus delegatensis (Alpine Ash) is a common species in sub-alpine areas, where it can grow to be a massive tree. However, it takes approximately 25 to 40 years before it is mature enough to flower and set seed. If this species is burnt by a hot bushfire on a cycle of less than 25 years then the species will be wiped out.

Invasive species, which could be native species growing in an area outside their normal distribution can threaten species endemic to the area. One such invasive species is Acacia baileyana, which if unchecked will smoother and kill off endemic species.

Introduced species, often plants that have been introduced into the system since colonisation, also threaten endemic Australian species. There are many examples, some are blackberries, St John Wort, and Patterson's Curse. These will often out compete native species. Other introduced species that cause immense destruction within this wilderness area are wild brumbies (horses), wild boar (pigs), goats, deer, foxes, cats, and rabbits.
BushBlitz is an important biological survey, which tells a story of the current biodiversity and can be used to compare past and future records to make decisions on how to encourage stewardship of everything we share our home, Australia, with.

(Photo: Destruction caused by feral pigs.)