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Scientists mapped biodiversity of South Australia and threats to it

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Posted January 8, 2016

Nature of Australia is extraordinary. Diversity of species is astonishing in Australia. In fact, regardless of how much efforts scientists put through the years of exploration, a lot of this nature has not been yet described. This is why scientists from the University of Adelaide research have conducted a landmark analysis of plant diversity across South Australia. They identified areas where diversity is the highest and key threats to them.

Nature of Australia is extremely diverse, but also fragile. Now scientists mapped the most biodiverse areas in South Australia and threats to this diversity. Image credit: Marionlad via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Nature of Australia is extremely diverse, but also fragile. Now scientists mapped the most biodiverse areas in South Australia and threats to this diversity. Image credit: Marionlad via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

In order to create such map, scientists used detailed biological data, collected over time during numerous programs that were researching biodiversity in South Australia, and a suite of sophisticated metrics. This allowed them to identify biodiverse regions and the potential threats to their survival.

Dr. Greg Guerin, lead author of the study, said: “We also looked at the extent to which the vegetation of each site was likely to change under future climates. We concluded that all of the state’s ecosystems are expected to be impacted but the southern Flinders Ranges location is expected to be the most sensitive of these regions to climate change”.

Indeed, climate change is a huge threat to biodiversity all over the world and Australia’s nature is no exception, despite its tough image. Scientists say that all of the areas of extreme biodiversity can be damaged by a variety of issues, such as habitat fragmentation, weed invasion and altered fire regimes.

Mount Lofty Ranges region in particular has a huge variety of species, but is also the most vulnerable to these threats. Other regions are very interesting too, for example western side of Kangaroo Island may have the most significant plant biodiversity in South Australia and has rather high reservation levels, which makes it less vulnerable to human activity.

This study helps to improve understanding of biodiversity in the region. Identifying threats and dangers to the most vulnerable regions, will help to inform the management of native biodiversity better. Furthermore, because this study concerns ecosystems rather than separate species, it uses numerical methods which can now be repeated and updated to meet future conservation management requirements. More than anything, it will serve as a tool to assess the biodiversity in South Australia.

Source: adelaide.edu.au

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