Postgraduate Profiles

Paul Macintyre

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Thesis: Vegetation patterns and biogeography of the kwongan shrublands of Western Australia

The vegetation of Western Australia is often considered to be among the most diverse on the planet yet much of it remains poorly described and even less understood. The flagship vegetation defined by both importance and poor coverage of knowledge, is the kwongan – species- and endemic-rich shrublands, unique to the South Western Australian Floristic Region. Local and regionally specific studies featuring kwongan vegetation are available; however, a synthesis of these studies is needed so as to understand the ancient and current drivers of the variability within the kwongan. Further, this synthesis will allow understanding of the position of the kwongan within the biome scheme for the state which is currently missing. This study aims to combine vegetation data and physio-geographic data with cutting edge data-analytic techniques and predictive algorithms to: (1) create a floristic classification system for the kwongan shrublands of WA, (2) identify the ecological drivers of this vegetation, (3) create a potential natural vegetation map of this vegetation, (4) identify the biogeographic patterns within the kwongan vegetation and (5) determine where the kwongan vegetation is positioned within a new biome framework for WA.

Why my research is important

Accurate and reliable vegetation maps are essential for the conservation and management of biodiversity in the state; however creating these maps by traditional methods involves a significant cost and time investment. By utilizing modern approaches we are able to create accurate representations of the patterns which exist.