Biodiversity

Australia's Biodiversity

Australia is biologically rich and diverse. One of only 17 countries in the world classified as biologically megadiverse, its biodiversity is globally important and remarkable.

 

You can explore Australia's biodiversity using the chart below. The size of each block is proportional to the estimated numbers of species in different groups of organisms (also given as a percentage). The dark section of the pie chart shows the proportion of the estimated species in the group that have not yet been named. 

Click on a box to learn more.

Australia is biologically rich and diverse. One of only 17 countries in the world classified as biologically megadiverse, its biodiversity is globally important and remarkable.

 

You can explore Australia's biodiversity using the chart below. The size of each block is proportional to the estimated numbers of species in different groups of organisms (also given as a percentage). The dark section of the pie chart shows the proportion of the estimated species in the group that have not yet been named. 

Hover over the details to learn more.

Taxon block 1.jpg

Insects are the largest group of organisms on Earth. Taxonomists estimate there over 200,000 species occur Australia.

Around 30% of Australian insects have been discovered and named to date.

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'Protists' are a diverse and heterogeneous grouping of single-celled, microspcopic organisms. Taxonomists estimate that over 65,000 species occur in Australia.

It is likely that over 90% of Australian protists have not yet been discovered.

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Taxonomists estimate that there are at least 50,000 species of fungi in Australia.

It is likely that less than 25% of Australian fungi have been named.

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It's extremely hard to estimate the number of bacterial species in Australia, and uncertainties are very large.

It is likely that less than 10% of Australian bacteria have been named.

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Taxonomists estimate that there are over 30,000 species of arachnids (spiders, scorpions, mites, ticks and their relatives) in Australia.

It is likely that around 20% of these have been named.

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Taxonomists estimate that there are around 30,000 species of nematodes in Australia.

It is likely that less than 10% of these have been named.

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Taxonomists estimate that there are around 25,000 species of vascular plants (flowering plants, conifers, ferns etc) in Australia.

It is likely that nearly 90% of these have been named.

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The Chromista includes diatoms, brown algae, and a diverse group of microscopic photosynthetic organisms.

 

There are an estimated 20,000 species in Australia, only 10% of which have been named.

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Molluscs include sea and land snails and slugs, and octopuses and their relatives. Taxonomists estimate that there are over 12,000 species in Australia, around 30% of which have not yet been named.

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There are an estimated 10,000 species of crustaceans  (crabs, shrimps, barnacles etc) in Australia, around 25% of which have not yet been named.

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There are an estimated 10,000 species of terrestrial and marine flatworms in Australia, around 15% of which have been named.

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There are estimated to be more than 5,000 species of fishes in Australia and its surrounding oceans, around 90% of which have been named.

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There are estimated to be around 3,500 species of sponges in Australia's oceans, less than half of which have been named.

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There are estimated to be over 3,000 species of myriapods (centipedes, millipedes and allies) in Australia, less than 20% of which have been named.

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There are estimated to be over 20,000 species of red and green algae in Australia, less than 20% of which have been named.

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This area of the chart comprises around 9000 species (less than 2% of Australia's biodiversity) in 33 taxonomic groups.

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There are estimated to be around 2,200 species of corals, sea jellies and their relatives in Australian waters, around 80% of which have been named.

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There are estimated to be around 4,000 species of marine, terrestrial and freshwater annelid worms in Australia, around half of which have been named.

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Numbers in this chart are derived from this publication by the Australian Biological Resources Study, updated by taxonomist Gerry Cassis and colleagues in a chapter in this book.

Note that some numbers are very uncertain, particularly for hyperdiverse but poorly known groups such as bacteria, nematodes and fungi.

There are estimated to be more than 2,000 species of mosses, liverworts and hornworts in Australia, around 85% of which have been named.

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There are estimated to be around 2,500 species of bryozoans in Australia and its surrounding oceans, only 40% of which have been named.

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There are estimated to be around 2,000 species of collembola in Australia; only around 14% of these have been named.

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