|Publication Type:||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication:||1997|
|Authors:||Hopper, S. D., Brown, A. P., Marchant N. G.|
|Journal:||Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia|
|Keywords:||annuals, flora, granite outcrops, Triglochin, vegetation, Western Australia|
Outcropping granite rocks in Western Australia span a considerable climatic range, from the mediterranean south-west to inland desert and northern arid subtropics and tropics. At least 1320, and possibly 2000, plant taxa occur on Western Australian granite outcrops. Outcrop plant life is most diverse in the South West Botanical Province, with individual outcrops having up to 200 species, including many endemics not found in surrounding habitats. Species richness and local endemism declines with increasing aridity, to the point where Kimberley and Pilbara outcrops show little discontinuity in species from the surrounding landscape matrix. Outcrops are dominated by woody and herbaceous perennials, especially of the Myrtaceae, Orchidaceae, and Mimosaceae, and have an unusually rich diversity of annuals (Asteraceae, Stylidiaceae, Poaceae, Amaranthaceae etc.) compared with the flora as a whole. An unusual life form is found in resurrection plants capable of extreme desiccation and rehydration (e.g. Borya, Cheilanthes). Among woody perennials, bird pollination is frequent, and some outcrops harbour a high proportion of obligate seeder species due to the refuge from fire provided by bare rock barriers. The diversity of microhabitats and soil moisture regimes on outcrops has enabled the persistence of species beyond their main range in the face of climatic fluctuations. It has also facilitated the evolution of many endemics in the south-west. Major threatening processes facing outcrop plant communities include weed invasion, grazing by stock and feral animals, too-frequent fire, clearing, loss of shrub layer, salinity, and dieback. Conservation of these rich rare habitats needs the support of local communities.
|Alternate Journal:||In P.C. Withers and S.D. Hopper (eds). Granite Outcrops Symposium.|