Mitchell Grass Downs

Australia

A wide, expansive ecoregion that consists of largely treeless plains with some occasional ridges, rivers and gorges. The climate is very variable as the region transitions between the arid interior of Australia to the northern, moister lowlands. The terrain comes alive after rains with wildflowers and water-birds a particular highlight.

Mitchell Grass Downs

Status

Protection
0 %

Status

Size

471,881 km²

UNESCO World Heritage Sites​

Nil

 

Background – CC Attribution Share Alike 4.0 International – John Robert McPherson, 2019 / Map – CC Attribution Share Alike 4.0 International – Every-leaf-that-trembles, 2021

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: Good Riddance

Services

Holidays: Mitchell Grass Retreat

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 the keystone species Coolibah (Eucalyptus coolabah) and Emu Apple (Owenia acidula) if you have space along with beautiful Ghost Gum (Corymbia blakei) and Silver-leaved Ironbark (Eucalyptus melanophloia) for specimen features. 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 including Northern Bean Tree (Lysiphyllum carronii), Lysiphyllum gilvum, Supplejack (Ventilago viminalis), Olive-leaved Psydrax (Psydrax oleifolia), Silver Oak (Grevillea parallela), False Sandalwood (Eremophila mitchellii) and in wetter areas, the Black Tea-tree (Melaleuca bracteata). To create habitat, consider installation of nestboxes for native birds and creating tree hollows in old, dead tree limbs.

SHRUB LAYER

Plant native shrubs such as Conkerberry (Carissa lanceolata), Acacia minyura, Two-nerved Wattle (Acacia bivenosa), Gundabluie (Acacia victoriae), Silver Needlewood (Hakea leucoptera) and Feathery Cassia (Senna artemisioides) for bright flowering colours. These plants create dense shrubby refugia and provide plenty of nectar for birds and mammals. To create habitat, consider installing insect hotels, compost-heaps and bird-baths in this layer.

GROUND LAYER

Plant tufts of cottage-garden style herbs and grasses like Common White Sunray (Rhodanthe floribunda), Sturt's Desert-rose (Hibiscus sturtii), Green Pussytails (Ptilotus macropcephalus), Ipomoea calobra, Blue Pincushion (Brunonia australis), Hairy Goodenia (Goodenia lunata), River Mint (Mentha australis), Curly Mitchell Grass (Astrebla lappacea) and Barley Mitchell Grass (Astrebla pectinata). To create habitat, consider installing a pond or bog-garden with native aquatic and riparian plants like the Georgina River Water-lily (Nymphaea georginae), log-piles for sheltering amphibians and reptiles and leave areas of leaf-litter for important insects.

Learn

The expansive plains and savannas that cover the Mitchell Grass downs are an important area of transition between the hot, dry interior of Australia and the more humid, coastal areas. It is dominated by Mitchell grasses (from the genus Astrebla) growing on clay-rich soils, which form huge plains of low grasslands. In periods following wet weather, these plains explode with colour and life as moisture kickstarts dormancy periods for many of the ecoregion’s species. From the incredibly rare Night Parrot to huge flocks of migratory birds like the Flock Bronzewing, this area is a remarkable land of contrasting seasons and wide, open landscapes. In some areas, pockets of sandstone and other sedimentary rocks have weathered to form large riverine areas with woodlands dominated by eucalypts and acacias.

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

Extensive plains with occasional flat-topped mesas of igenous or metamorphic rocks with weathered gorges and river basins

Climate

Tropical - Subtropical

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.

Purple-necked Rock-wallaby
(Petrogale purpureicollis)

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.

Lord Howe Fantail
(Rhipidura cervina)

Lord Howe Thrush
(Turdus vinitinctus)

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

Grandiose Coolibah trees help provide moisture for soil invertebrates and the establishment of new plants through a process known as hydraulic lift. The trees' large tap roots draw ground water and nutrients to the upper soil profile. This, in conjunction with erosion control and the shade provided by their canopies, makes these trees invaluable for many species around them.

Life-support Systems​

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