Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems

The high mountain vegetation of Australia

AB Costin

Australian Journal of Botany 5(2) 173 - 189
Published: 1957


An account is given of the high mountain vegetation of the Australian Alps.

This vegetation is naturally defined as that situated above the level of the winter snow-line (4500–5000 ft); it occupies an area in south-eastern Australia of about 2000 sq. miles.

The high mountain environment can be divided into subalpine and alpine tracts, on the basis of average duration of the winter snow cover and related effects. Relevant climatic data are given, together with information on physiography, geology, flora, fauna, soils, and land use.

The plant communities identified earlier in the Snowy Mountains area are found to provide a generalIy satisfactory basis for the rest of the high mountain areas. The various fjaeldmark, alpine herbfield, sod tussock grassland, heath, subalpine woodland, and bog and fen alliances are enumerated, with details of distribution and rariation in Australia and comparisons with homologous vegetation in Europe.

Five broad ecological types of high mountain are recognized and the characteristic associations of communities are described.

Almost all of the Australian high mountain vegetation has been modified by land use. Few of the existing communities are regarded as stable and the direction of change will depend largely on how they are henceforth managed by man.

© CSIRO 1957

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