What are alpine ecosystems?
The alps are characterised by granite and sandstone peaks with rounded mountain tops and plateaus.
The highest mountain areas support a rich mosaic of heathland, grassland and alpine bog communities.
At slightly lower altitudes these ‘treeless islands’ give way to subalpine woodlands comprising small, multi-stemmed, snow gums usually less than 10m tall.
- A mere 0.5 per cent of Australia is truly ‘treeless’ alpine.
- Climatic conditions are harsh
- Typically covered in snow for more than a third of the year
- Plants and animals have evolved to cope with environmental extremes – low temperatures, high winds, snow cover for long periods and seasonal inundation
- Many species are found only in the alpine area including several species at risk of extinction, such as the Baw Baw Frog, Alpine Water Skink, Mountain Pygmy-possum and Stirling Stonefly.
Alpine-adapted species are vulnerable to:
- Climate change impacts such as changes in snow cover, streamflows and frequency of large scale wildfire
- Weed invasion
- Grazing by exotic animals and predation by foxes.
Where to find alpine ecosystems?
Find out more
Australian Alps National Parks – Comprehensive information about Austalia’s alpine national parks across Victoria, NSW and the ACT.
Deptartment of Environment and Primary Industries – Distribution map and information about the alpine and sub-alpine habitats found in Victoria.
Melbourne Museum – Alps in Victoria – Information about some of the endangered species found in the Victorian alps.
31 Jul 2015
This World Ranger Day, Parks Victoria is acknowledging the wonderful rangers who do a huge range of work to look after Victoria’s parks. Des Lucas has been a ranger with Parks Victoria for 38 years, and the last eighteen of those have been at Braeside and Karkarook parks. As Team…