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.
14 Oct 2016
The Great Ocean Walk is a 105 kilometre spectacular coastal trail, starting at Apollo Bay Visitor Information Centre and finishing at the Twelve Apostles Visitor Centre. Stunning ocean views and fascinating flora and fauna are now accessible to more adults and children, thanks to the all-terrain wheelchair available free to…