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Southwest Australia Hotspot

The southwest coast of Australia has nearly 356,717 sq km marked out as a biodiversity hotspot. Vegetation in this region is woody comprising forests, woodlands, shrublands and heaths. Natural woodlands rich in eucalyptus are the predominant vegetation type.

The region has 5,571 plant, 285 bird, 59 mammal, 177 reptile, 32 amphibian and 20 freshwater fish species. Many areas of the landscape are dotted with bright, colourful flowers belonging to members of the Banksia plant family. Flagship species in the region include three species of eucalyptus known locally as jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata), marri (E. calophylla) and karri (E. diversicolor).

Nearly 22 species of parrots including the Carnaby's black-cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus latirostris), are unique to this region. Another bird species the noisy scrub bird (Atrichornis clamosus) thought to be extinct has been rediscovered. The numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus), Gilbert's potoroo (Potorous gilberti), honey possum (Tarsipes rostratus) and the quokka (Setonix brachyurus) are some of the endemic mammalian inhabitants of this hotspot. Reptiles found here are the endemic western swamp turtle (Pseudemydura umbrina), Yinnietharra rock dragon (Ctenophorus yinnietharra) and the Lake Cronin snake (Echiopsis atriceps). Among amphibians the turtle frog (Myobatrachus gouldii) and the yellow-bellied frog (Geocrinia vitellina) and among freshwater fishes the salamander fish (Lepidogalaxias salamandroides) are some of the species distinctive to Southwest Australia.

Mining for bauxite, clearing of land for farming and forays made by large numbers of alien invasive species like feral cats and foxes are important threats to the regions biodiversity. A total of 38,379 sq km or 11% of the land is under some form of official protection. Besides the Australian government, conservation organisations actively working to protect the biodiversity of the region include Birds Australia, CISRO and the World Wide Fund for Nature.

[The information has been sourced from the Conservation International website on biodiversity hotspots ( Accessed in February 2008.]

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