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Associates in the Esperance Mallee, Australia

Lerista viduata is endemic to the Esperance Mallee ecoregion of Australia. The Esperance Plains boast over 3500 native vascular plant species, and around 300 established naturalized alien species. On the Esperance Plains there have been 72 distinct taxa of endangered plants, with another 433 species having been designated Priority Flora under the Australian Department of Environment and Conservation's Declared Rare and Priority Flora List. The predominant soil is sand over clay, overlying Archean and Proterozoic granite of the Yilgarn Craton. At the eastern limits there is some calcareous soil overlying Eocene limestone. The region manifests a low-lying, gently undulating topography, with rather occluded drainage, such that a series of playa lakes is produced.

This ecoregion covers 44,600 square miles of critical/endangered mediterranean forests, woodlands, and shrub in western Australia. About one half of the land area of this ecoregion is currently being used for agriculture, with most of the prior ecological damage arising from agricultural clearance having been carried out in government sponsored public works programs. There are a total of 382 recorded vertebrate fauna in the Esperance Mallee, including numerous special status birds and reptiles. The semi-arid ecoregion boasts a plethora of snakes, including two endemic squamata; there is also one endemic amphibian species, Neobetrachus albipes, in the Esperance Mallee.

The Mallee biogeographic region vegetation is predominantly Eucalyptus mallee over an understory of myrtaceous and proteaceous heath. Over half of the land area is vegetated solely by mallee, with a further one fourth chiefly mallee with woodland patches; the latter vegetation occurs mainly on the calcareous soils to the east. The mallee region consists of a number of Eucalyptus species, the most consistent being tall sand mallee (E. eremophila). Seasonally wet and alluvial zones are vegetated by Melaleuca shrublands where freshwater, and Tecticornia‎ low shrublands for saline soils. There are also sporadic thickets of Allocasuarina, particularly on greenstone hills.

Tne faunal assemblage of thes ecoregion the coast includes the reptiles: the endemic McKenzie's dragon (Ctenophorus mckenziei), near threatened Bardick snake (Echiospsis curta), the vulnerable endemic E. atriceps, the endemic lerista viduata, and the highly venomous Common Death Adder (Acanthopis antarcticus), An endemic amphibian of the ecoregion is the Neobetrachus albipes; the near threatened Main's ground froglet (Geocrina lutea) is a special status amphibian of the ecoregion. Mammals within the ecoregion include the near threatened brush-tailed phascogale (Phascogale tapotafa), near threatened red-tailed phascogale (P. calura), near threatened western quoll (Dasyurus geoffroii), and  the minute honey possum (Tarsipes rostratus) which feeds on nectar of the Australian kangaroo paw flower (Anigozanthos manglesii).

Birds include the endangered western whipbird, endangered Australasian bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus), endangered slender-billed black cockatoo (Calyptorlynchus latirostris), endangered white-tailed black cockatoo (C. baudinii), vulnerable fairy tern (Sterna nereis), vulnerable great knot (Sterna tenuirostris), vulnerable far eastern curlew (Numenius madagascariensis), vulnerable malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata), near threatened black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa), near threatened blue-billed duck (Oxyura australis), near threatened buff-breasted sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis), near threatened letter-winged kite (Elanus scriptus), western ground parrot, red-winged fairywren (Malurus elegans), Australian white ibis (Threskiornis moluccus) and the rare Cape Barren goose (Cereopsis novaehollandiae) in the coastal zone..

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© C.Michael Hogan; World Wildlife Fund; Encyclopedia of Earth

Supplier: C. Michael Hogan

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