Our Bushland Diary

Monday, April 27, 2009

Biodiversity of Ellenbrook

It might be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that our bushland is just one big patch of homogeneous "scrub" with a few different kinds of plants and some kangaroos and birds, but that's not true.

For starters, Ellenbrook is in one of Earth's biodiversity hotspots; we have a huge variety of plants and animals packed into a small area. (Find out more at Conservation International.)

For example, we have more than a dozen tree species including five species of banksia and four species of eucalypt. Our understorey species, such as acacias, beaufortias, hibbertias, peas, trigger plants, sundews and orchids, number in the HUNDREDS. With each change of season, there is always something coming into flower, something going into seed; an ever-changing kaleidoscope for the bushwalker and photographer. . . oh, and botanist.

I joke that Perth has the highest density of botanists in Australia . . . with over 12,000 plant species known to date, WA is certainly a fantastic place to be a botanist!

As for animals, if you know where to look, you can find evidence of Black-gloved (Western Brush) Wallabies, echidnas, bandicoots, brushtail possums and even Honey Possums. These animals are generally either nocturnal or very shy and you will have to go on a "nightwalk" to see them. In Ellenbrook's Bush Forever Sites there is an amazing assortment of reptiles and frogs such as sleek little pygopods ("legless lizards"), golden-eyed geckoes and burrowing brown frogs. And so many birds; the endangered Carnaby's Cockatoo, emus, owls, Grey Fantail, Red-capped Parrot, birds of prey, honeyeaters, quail, Splendid Fairy-wren, pardalotes, the Rainbow Bee-eater, and Scarlet Robin, to name a few.

Some animals, such as the bobtail and Singing Honeyeater, adapt to life in suburban areas and are likely to become regular visitors in our gardens and parks. I would like this to happen because I think that a garden without native birds, skinks and butterflies is only half a garden.

Some animals, however, are becoming less common as more land is cleared for housing and other "people stuff"; echidnas and honey possums can't survive in a concrete and turf habitat alongside dogs and cats. In the long term this will mean a decline in Ellenbrook's biodiversity. But I want to see Ellenbrook's biodiversity maintained, with room for owls and pygopods, orchids and jewel beetles, as well as people. What do you think we can do to prevent this decline?

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