Fragile Ecosystems

Simpson Desert by Jacob Rowe

Introduction

The Simpson Desert was first found in 1845. Charles Sturt entered from the South eastern side trying to get to the middle of Australia.The Simpson Desert is located in central Australia within the Southern Eastern corner of the Northen Territory which is also partly in Queensland and South Australia. Due to the lack of rain the terrain is arid. The Simpson Desert is one of the worlds largest endorhiec (being a type of basin). The desert contains Australia's largest lake called Lake Eyre, which is the fifth largest terminal lake.The landscape is subdued with alavial plains; with claypans, dunefields and native vegetation. The wetlands teem with fish. When flooded there are flocks of water birds. The claypans although are usually dry, are populated with black swans and other water birds.

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Flora

There are different types of flora that grow in the barren plains. A total of 780 different types of species of flora, with a total of 75 different plant families grow in the Simpson Desert . These are some flora that live in the Simpson Desert: Fork Leaf Corkwood, Cane Grass, Acacia (a-ka-sha), Parrot Bush, Spinifex Grass and many others.

Interesting Flora facts!

Flora suffer loosing water through their leaves. Such as: Spinifex Grass, Desert Oak and the Mulga Wattle, grow very narrow leaves, which keeps water loss to a minimum. The leaves of these flora also have a thick waxy skin which prevents them from drying out. Another way these flora get water is the roots which bury metres in the ground.


Fauna

There are many types of fauna such as the Mulgara, Eyrean Grasswren, Sand

Sliding Skinks, Water Holding Frog, Spifex Hopping Mouse, Lined Earless Dragon, Orange Naped Snake, the Burtons Snake Lizard and the Perenty Lizard.


The Perentie

Interesting fauna facts: food chain!

Grass seeds eaten by Grasswren and Hopping Mouse, Grasswren eaten by Kite Eagle. Hopping Mouse eaten by fox. Fox eats centipeads, which are eaten by Bilbys. Bilbys eaten by Perentie Lizard which then the Perentie Lizard eats the Hopping Mouse.

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Tourism

Tourism in the Simpson Desert is explored with 4WD, tourists come to climb over Nappanerica Sand Dune also known as Big Red. This is the largest and most famous sand dune in the Simpson Desert. It stands approximately 90 metres above sea level. Although the height can vary when winds blow. Another attraction are the wild flowers. As there are usually few plants to see, the flowers that grow after heavy rain can look amazing. As well as the Mulga Tree, Desert Oak and other. Tourists also can have long adventurous walks.


Although there are amazing sites, there are rules. Like no driving off road or off the track. This is because it is killing biodiversity and can cause erosion (which means to wear away). Also going off the tracks kills fauna as it is home to snakes, birds and other small animals. Also tourists will need: plenty of water, spare car parts and they will need to try to avoid hot seasons like December-March. Another thing they should know is the climate change. The average temperature in Summer can range from 32˚C - 60˚C and in Winter 18˚C - 23˚C.

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Desert oak tree

Threats or Dangers

The danger is releasing other flora, fauna or organisms into this precious ecosystem. For example the desert rabbit problem.The rabbits were a huge problem in 1995. So bad at dusk, it looked like it was moving with them. They were competing with native animals, ate the bark of trees and the shrub plants couldn't grow back. The seeds and seedlings were also all eaten by the desert rabbits. There was a massive effect and the Simpson Desert ecosystem was terribly damaged. In 1995 the Calici (cal-is-e) Virus was released to kill the rabbits. It killed them in two days. The solution was successful. In 1999 (4 years after the release of the Calico Virus) desert rabbits population decreased by 90%! It looked as if desert rabbits were never introduced in Australia and Mulga Trees were growing in areas they haven't grown in before in over 100 years. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) say the dusty terrains are healthy again.


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