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 10 metres tall.
More about the alps
- 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.