This is an issue under the Biodiversity theme of the Data Reporting System.
The species level is generally regarded to be the most appropriate to consider the diversity between organisms. This is because species are the primary focus of evolutionary mechanisms and therefore are relatively well defined. The diversity of species in an ecosystem is an indication of their overall health and resilience to pressure.
To effectively manage the ecological estate, an assessment of species diversity, especially richness, is necessary. However, for most taxa there are still large gaps in our knowledge.
- BD-01 The number of fauna and flora species described in Australia compared with previous years and estimated total number of species
Australia is home to almost one million species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. About 91 per cent of flowering plants, 83 per cent of mammals, more than 45 per cent of birds, and 90 per cent of fish are endemic - that is, they are only found in Australia. However, by world standards species richness is low in some taxa, eg the number of freshwater fish species in Australia reflects the small amount of freshwater habitat.
There are very few examples where the number of species is believed to be the final total. For most groups, there are still large gaps in our knowledge. Invertebrates, for instance, make a major contribution to species diversity in Australia but with the exception of a few charismatic groups, such as the butterflies, there is very little biological or ecological knowledge of the species. Microorganisms are also an important component of species richness in Australia and can have utilitarian and indirect values in both marine and terrestrial systems. Very little is known about these organisms.
This indicator illustrates the state of our knowledge of flora and fauna and how many species we have been able to identify over the past five years.
- BD-02 Conservation status of nationally significant species and ecological communities, compared with previous years
The number of species that are threatened or endangered is a surrogate indicator for decline in species richness more generally.
- CO-01 Trends in selected groups of coastal and marine species and habitats
Changes in populations and distribution of selected sentinel species may provide insights into loss of species diversity.
- Land - Land condition - Condition of terrestrial species and ecological communities
- Land - Contributions of land to human life - Ecological services (air, water, climate)
- Coasts and Oceans - Condition of the ocean and coastal waters - Condition of species, habitats and ecosystems
- Coasts and Oceans - Contributions of the coasts and oceans to human life - Ecological services (air, water, climate)
- Biodiversity - Utilisation and value of biodiversity - Contributions of biodiversity to ecological services
- Biodiversity - Species, habitats and ecological communities - Condition of freshwater biodiversity
- Biodiversity - Landscapes - Ecosystem diversity
Links to another web site
Links to data in the DRS
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