Our ‘Wet Tropics’ Endemics
The Wet Tropics of Queensland is an area of great diversity and is rich in endemic species. This includes birds with 15 species unique to the area. Each of these birds is illustrated below. All of our local endemics can be found at higher altitudes and some are restricted to those sites. This is most likely the result of historical climate cycles in that the last evolutionary bottle-neck occurred in the ice age less than 20 000 years ago. The unique birds which survived or adjusted to that environment were cool adapted rainforest species. This adaption may prove problematic for some of the more restricted birds as the planet warms.
As more research is conducted, cryptic species and subspecies are being uncovered. Recently genetic analysis showed that the Graceful Honeyeaters of the Wet Tropics were indeed different from those further north and became a new Wet Tropic endemic species – Cryptic Honeyeater. Currently there is much discussion regarding the status of the ‘Atherton Quail-thrush’ and the ‘Herberton Honeyeater’. Research is ongoing.
Birds displaying unique Wet Tropic subspecies include Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, Crimson Rosella, Brown Gerygone, Yellow Thornbill, Bassian Thrush, Southern Boobook, Grey Fantail, Satin Bowerbird, White-throated Treecreeper, Yellow-throated Scrubwren, Eastern Spinebill, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Pale-yellow Robin and Masked Owl.
Click on images to view a slideshow of larger versions