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Australian Rock-Mammals: A Phenomenon of the Seasonally Dry Tropics
W. J. Freeland, J. W. Winter and S. Raskin
Vol. 20, No. 1 (Mar., 1988), pp. 70-79
Published by: Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2388428
Page Count: 10
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Mammal species specializing on rocky habitats constitute 11 percent of Australia's marsupial and rodent species. The majority of rock-dwelling species is limited to the seasonally dry tropics. These habitats experience a single wet season followed by a long dry season. Runoff from rocky escarpments, water absorption by large rock formations, and the presence of aquifers in rock result in greater water availability close to rock escarpments. Escarpment vegetation, therefore, is higher in species richness and plant productivity than the surrounding forested habitaat. These species-rich habitats provide a greater variety of potential foods for hebivores. The impact of large rock formations on surrounding vegetation is less marked in regions with a more evenly distributed or very low rainfall and/or a temperate climate. The impact of rock escarpments on vegetation in the seasonally dry tropics, rather than the existence of more opportunities for speciation via genetic isolation, is likely to have been instrumental in the evolution of the often regionally endemic rock faunas of Australia's dry tropics.
Biotropica © 1988 Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation