Exploring Australia's Unique Biodiversity

Australia is home to an incredible array of unique flora and fauna, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth. Understanding and protecting these species is crucial for maintaining the ecological balance and preserving the natural heritage of this diverse continent.

Grass, Fire, and Ecological Engineering

Metastable Ecosystems

Australia's tropical savannas are dynamic systems where tree canopies and grasslands compete. With little disturbance, tree canopies close over, eliminating grasslands. Conversely, too much disturbance allows grasslands to dominate. Understanding these mechanisms is crucial for managing savanna environments.

The Grass-Fire Cycle

Recent studies in northern Australia reveal that contemporary fire regimes and the spread of African grasses are causing hotter, more frequent fires. This grass-fire cycle is detrimental to Australia's eucalypt savannas. Management strategies include:

  • Chemical and mechanical control
  • Grazing management
  • Preventing the spread of African grasses

Protecting Platysace

Protecting nature

What it Looks Like

Platysace is a multi-stemmed shrub, up to 1.5 meters tall, with narrow, fragrant leaves and clusters of white flowers producing fennel-like seeds.


This rare species grows on sandstone cliff faces in the Victoria Bonaparte bioregion, straddling the Northern Territory and Western Australia border, notably in Keep River National Park.

Importance as an Indicator

Platysace’s distribution in naturally fire-protected areas suggests it requires fire exclusion for survival. To protect it, implement a fire regime that ensures patches of long-unburnt land. Use early-season fires, natural fire breaks, and avoid burning areas with fire-sensitive plants.

Conserving Mertens' Water Monitor

What it Looks Like

Mertens' Water Monitor is a semi-aquatic goanna, up to 1 meter long, with a dark brown back and numerous small yellow spots. Its flattened tail aids swimming.


This species inhabits coastal and inland waters across northern Australia, from the Kimberley to Cape York Peninsula, rarely straying far from water.

Importance as an Indicator

The presence of Mertens' Water Monitor indicates abundant prey and suitable nesting sites. It has declined due to the cane toad's toxin but shows recovery in areas where it adapts locally. Protect it by controlling pests, avoiding toad transportation, and preserving riparian habitats.

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