Rainforest was formerly widespread on the Australian continent but underwent large-scale contraction to pockets on the east coast through the Miocene and Quaternary. This contraction was due to increasingly dry and seasonal climatic conditions across the continent, which reached greatest severity during the glacial cycles of the Pleistocene. Extensive areas of exposed, layered rock in the mesic areas of Australia provide similar microclimatic conditions to rainforest, in being cool, moist and largely sheltered from fire. These rock habitats are stable and relatively buffered from short- and long-term climatic changes. Therefore, rock habitats can act as refugia (litho-refugia) for the persistence of rainforest lineages in areas where rainforest is currently, or was historically, marginal or absent. Here we outline a number of examples of rainforest faunal groups, primarily from mid-eastern and northeastern Queensland, that exemplify the importance of rock landscapes in the persistence of rainforest lineages.
Litho-refugia: the importance of rock landscapes for the long-term persistence of Australian rainforest fauna
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Patrick Couper, Conrad Hoskin; Litho-refugia: the importance of rock landscapes for the long-term persistence of Australian rainforest fauna. Australian Zoologist 1 November 2008; 34 (4): 554–560. doi: https://doi.org/10.7882/AZ.2008.032
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