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.
06 Feb 2017
Sand renourishment and revegetation works undertaken in 2015 and 2016 to improve the habitat values for migratory birds on Pelican Island in the Gippsland Lakes is starting to pay dividends for the population of Fairy Tern and Little Terns. Pelican Island had experienced a loss in low level beach areas…