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Climate change pressure on the Wet Tropics of Queensland

Key finding

The Wet Tropics of Queensland is recognised as being extremely sensitive to climate change which is changing the distribution patterns and population densities of many Wet Tropics species.

Wet Tropics of Queensland (information applies statewide, map locations are for reference only)

Climate change threatens to disrupt the finely balanced ecological and climatic conditions that support the distinctive assemblage of plants and animals that exist in the Wet Tropics, and may result in rapid and catastrophic changes.

Climate change is exacerbating impacts of other threatening processes such as fragmentation, invasive species and changing water and fire regimes.

Most of the restricted locally endemic fauna species of the Wet Tropics are high-altitude specialists (total distribution is confined to within a narrow high-altitude range) with limited thermal tolerances (the entire temperature range that permits survival).

A range of climate change threats have been predicted, including changed weather patterns which could seriously affect plant and animal species vulnerable to a warmer and more variable climate, and changes in cloud stripping and associated water cycles. Climate change also poses the risk of more intense cyclones with associated disruption to ecosystem structure and function.

The frequency and severity of extreme weather such as heat waves also appear to be increasing which have been correlated to the rapid, catastrophic decline in abundance of arboreal (living in trees) mammals in some high elevation locations.

More information:

Indicator: Climate change

Climate change pressure on the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Property.

Last updated 12 February 2020