Biodiversity and Endemism within the Mount Canobolas Volcanic Complex

Richard W Medd, Colin C Bower

Abstract


Mt Canobolas State Conservation Area (SCA) hosts a small remnant of sub-alpine vegetation consisting of seven recognisable communities with the heathlands on the rock plates appearing to be unique to the SCA. The SCA has a known biota of 884 native species that includes 14 threatened species and at least 10 endemic taxa. Some 200 species are regionally significant, being either rare or at the limits of known geographic range. The vascular flora is particularly species-rich being considerably more diverse than nearby regional reserves and over 12 fold richer than comparable areas of the Kosciusko National Park. One of three endangered ecological communities, the Mt Canobolas Xanthoparmelia Lichen Community, is unique to the volcanic province.
While there is some indication the endemic lithophytic lichens, the threatened Eucalyptus canobolensis and the heath communities may be substrate specific, there is no strong evidence of a geological association among other flora and fauna. We postulate that the presence of multiple endemic species reflects the geographic isolation which has provided an environment for species evolution by vicariance. Alternatively, Mt Canobolas has acted as a refugium for formerly widespread species that have become extinct elsewhere.

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