This Clive Lord Lecture will be delivered by Prof. Jamie Kirkpatrick AM, winner of the RST Clive Lord Medal 2019.
Tasmanian high mountain treeless vegetation is globally outstanding for its dominance by shrubs, hard-leaved graminoids and cushion plants, many of which are Cretaceous palaeoendemics. The highly maritime Tasmanian environment makes snow intermittent, exposing plants to fierce wintry winds and allowing mammals to graze all year round. The high mountain winds are associated with apparently cyclic succession in several situations, including bogs and fjaeldmark. Other apparently cyclic changes relate to the internal dynamics of ecosystems. Climate change has, so far, not affected the areas exhibiting these processes because of an interaction between stronger winds caused by climate change and environmental lapse rates. However, any marked ongoing warming at higher altitudes is likely to fossilise active processes. There is already some indication of such fossilisation in low altitude fjaeldmarks.