Cape York Peninsula tropical savanna

Australia

Mainland Australia’s northern-most point, this ecoregion consists of tropical savannas, grasslands and shrublands ranging from ancient sandstone ranges to coastal mangroves, lagoons and deltas.

Cape York

Status

Protection
0 %

Status

Size

121,160 km²

UNESCO World Heritage Sites​

Nil

Background – CC Attribution Share Alike 4.0 International – John Robert McPherson, 2010 / Map – CC Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported – Terpsichores, 2012

ACT
Help your Ecoregion
So what can you do to help your ecoregion? Below is a list to help you support your ecoregion, while also achieving life's everyday tasks. Don’t underestimate your power in doing good for nature!

PRODUCTS

Food and Homeware: Enviroshop

Services

Holidays: Cape York Motorcycle Tours

At Home
Below is a list of actions you can easily take at home to minimise your impact on the ecoregion in which you live, and the rest of the planet too!
In your Garden
Below is a list of native plants and habitat creation tips you can use in your garden or on your property to give your ecoregion and its species a boost!

CANOPY LAYER

Plant trees such as Darwin Stringybark (Eucalyptus tetrodonta), Woolewoorrng (Eucalyptus miniata), Broad-leaved Paperbark (Melaleuca viridiflora), Bumpy Satinash (Syzygium cormiflorum), Xanthostemon eucalyptoides, Indian Cherry (Cordia dichotoma) and Milky Yellowwood (Alstonia spectabilis) if you have space. To create habitat, consider installation of nestboxes for native birds and creating hollows in old, dead tree limbs.

SUB-CANOPY LAYER

Plant native sub-canopy trees and tall shrubs like Cedar Bay Cherry (Eugenia reinwardtiana), Ficus congesta, Northern White Beech (Gmelina dalrympleana), Northern Cabbage Palm (Livistona muelleri), Nut Horsfieldia (Horsfieldia australiana) and the unusual Musa banksii; a type of native banana. To create habitat, consider installation of nestboxes for native birds and creating tree hollows in old, dead tree limbs.

SHRUB LAYER

Plant native shrubs like Native Monstera (Epipremnum pinnatum), Melaleuca arcana, Bandicoot Berry (Leea guineensis) and Grewia retusifolia for structure. Try the vine Indian Birthwort (Aristolochia tagala) which is the foodplant of the amazing Cape York Birdwing butterfly. These plants create dense shrubby refugia for birds and mammals. To create habitat, consider installing insect hotels, compost-heaps and bird-baths in this layer.

GROUND LAYER

Plant the stunning Cape York Lily (Curcuma australasica) and the bizarre Amorphophallus paeonifolius for awesome ground-level features, along with the important grass Chrysopogon pallidus and small herbs like Blue Trumpet (Brunoniella australis) and Lechenaultia filiformis in drier areas. To create habitat, consider installing a pond or bog-garden with native aquatic and riparian plants, log-piles for sheltering amphibians and reptiles and leave areas of leaf-litter for important insects.

Learn

Cape York once joined Australia with the island of New Guinea to the north, and as such this ecoregion contains many similarities between the two land-masses, both in terms of species and landscapes. The area is a peninsula that is dominated by ancient sandstone and igneous rock formations, atop which diverse habitats unified by widespread savanna occur. From coastal mangroves to inland rainforests, this ecoregion boasts over a third of all Australia’s frogs, a third of its mammals and half of its birds. With such high biodiversity, the area has received relatively high levels of protection, including co-managed lands in partnership with Traditional Owners and Indigenous Peoples.

Ecoregion Structure
The structure of the ecoregion is defined as the key living and non-living features characterising its ecosystems, and the differences between how these ecosystems are arranged. For example, layers of vegetation, geology, habitat features and landscapes.

Geology

Sedimentary and metamorphic coastal lowlands to igneous mountain ranges

Climate

Tropical

Iconic Landscapes

Native plant communities

Scenes by @blueringmedia
Ecoregion Composition
The composition of the ecoregion is defined as the biodiversity that inhabits its ecosystems, and the differences between this biodiversity. For example, communities, populations, species, subspecies and genetic traits.
Keystone Species​
Keystone species are those that have a disproportionately large effect on the ecosystems in which they live, relative to their natural abundance there. In other words, species with a really important role in the health of ecosystems.
Flagship Species
Flagship species are those that are chosen by people to represent a wider conservation message, usually for a given place or social context, and as such often carry conservation messages for wider biodiversity.

Golden-shouldered Parrot
(Psephotellus chrysopterygius)

Recently Extinct Species
All around the world, biodiversity is declining at a concerning rate. For some species it's already too late, and they have disappeared from the ecoregions they once called home. These are some examples of those lost species.
Ecoregion Function
The function of the ecoregion is defined as how its structural and compositional components all work together to form ecological relationships and processes which change over time through geological shifts and evolution by natural selection.

Keystone Relationships

Termites in Cape York are incredibly important species - they are among the few animals able to break down the tough components of wood and leaves, and recycle their nutrients back into soil. Their amazing nests also provide homes for birds such as parrots and kingfishers.

Life-support Systems​

Biodiversity is fundamental to a healthy planet and thriving communities, but the world's species are under tremendous threat.