Bellenden Ker flora survey

In early November the Wet Tropics Management Authority’s permit officer Bill Carrodus accompanied Stuart Worboys, from the Australian Tropical Herbarium, and naturalist Tim Hawkes to Bellenden Ker on a survey of Wet Tropics endemic mountain-top plants. A number of these Wet Tropics endemics are only found on Bellenden Ker, such as Tasmannia sp. (Mt Bellenden Ker J.R. Clarkson 6571).

Stuart is surveying the distribution of mountain-top flora in the Wet Tropics on all high ranges (above 1200m) to determine climate change influences.

Most of these high-country specialist plants are geographically isolated from their other populations (often by vast distances) and more vulnerable to localised environmental impacts—particularly changes in temperature regimes, cloud cover and precipitation arising from climate change.

The team conducted transects of the eastern, western and southern ridges, descending 300m through rugged forest and noting the floral assemblages sequentially down the gradient. 

Incidental discoveries included several bowers of the golden, tooth-billed and satin bowerbirds with interesting decorations, and the endangered Bellenden Ker nursery-frog (Cophixalus neglectus). Tim also discovered several interesting snails including one endemic to Bellenden Ker. There was evidence of Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo scratching on a number of tree trunks, and numerous scats. The team was graced by golden whistler and Bower’s shrike-thrush melodies, the male bowerbirds’ repertoire and mimicry, and the striking contrasts of a pair of king parrots against the tea-tree background.

Find out more about endemic Wet Tropics fauna and flora here

See the State of Wet Tropics Report 2013-2014 Ancient, threatened and endemic flora of the Wet Tropics here

Bellenden Ker flora survey

Published: 20th Dec 2016

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