Climate change and Queensland biodiversityClimate change and Queensland biodiversity

Climate change and Queensland biodiversity

According to the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Resource Management:

There is perhaps no greater threat to Queensland biodiversity than climate change. There is a significant body of scientific evidence on the potentially catastrophic impacts facing particular ecosystems such as the Wet Tropics and Great Barrier Reef.

To effectively conserve and manage biodiversity right across the state, we need to continue gathering knowledge and improving our understanding of the emerging threats to Queensland's biodiversity.

Queensland biodiversity will be affected in many ways. Highlights from a major report available as a resource below are provided here:

  • Rising CO2 levels should provide plants with some compensation for declining water availability under climate change. But some plants will benefit more than others, leading to many shifts in vegetation composition and structure that are difficult to predict. The nutritional quality of foliage is expected to decline, with detrimental impacts on browsing mammals and insects, and possible impacts on their predators as well.


  • Shifts in relative species abundance will be a major outcome of climate change. Many rare rainforest plants could be displaced by native plants and weeds that benefit from climate change. Other shifts could include increases in noisy miners (Manorina melanocephala), which limit eucalypt adaptation to climate change by reducing pollen movement, and increases in weeds, most notably flammable pasture grasses that increase fire intensities and frequencies to the detriment of many species.


  • Human responses to climate change will have major impacts on biodiversity. If farmers respond to increasing heat and drought stress by farming more goats instead of cattle, the consequences could be detrimental for many plants, including rare species.


  • Eucalypts may show considerable resilience to climate change, having distributions that often do not reflect climatic limits, and pollination systems and growth forms that facilitate survival under changing conditions. But deaths of dominant ironbarks (for example E. crebra, E. melanophloia) and boxes and their replacement over large areas by subordinate bloodwoods (Corymbia species) seem likely because dominant eucalypts often have 'high risk' growth strategies. Contractions of range at western margins are likely, especially for species with large ranges.


  • Rainforest trees often survive droughts better than eucalypts, suggesting considerable resilience to climate change. But some rainforests are likely to suffer increased fire damage and weed invasion, and many changes in species dominance can be expected. Mangroves should benefit from climate change in some locations and decline on others, depending upon the opportunities for upslope migration. Saltmarshes are likely to decline.