New floral treasures are being discovered in the Kimberley region by our enthusiastic staff and students.

The Kimberley region of Western Australia comprises remote, ancient landscapes that have produced diverse and unique plant communities. Kings Park botanists are exploring the flora of the Kimberley with the aim of signifying the ecological importance of the region. Taxonomic studies have unearthed at least 10 new species in the past year and a major focus of BGPA’s work in the region is to increase the taxonomic descriptions of the Kimberley flora as it is one of the most poorly studied floristic regions in Australia.

Two PhD projects have recently commenced focused on the ecology of aquatic plants in the Kimberley. Combined, these studies represent the first major investigation of reproduction and dispersal of Kimberley aquatic flora.

One study is focused on the water lilies (Nymphaceae), as Western Australia is a significant centre of diversification for water lilies. This research will examine the seed biology of water lilies, develop methods for seed conservation and propagation, and determine how water and soil quality affect the growth and development of the seedlings. Dispersal of the seeds will also be examined (for example, whether water birds, fish, wind and or water play a role in dispersal).

The second PhD study is focused on wetland plants more generally, with seeds of nearly 30 species collected so far. This study will examine the ecological processes governing the reproduction, recruitment, dispersal and establishment of unique Kimberley aquatic plants to better understand the evolution of wetland plants. Research will focus on seed development, morphology and germination, and incorporate an analysis of plant habitat characters including vegetation composition, soil and water chemistry, and geology to understand the distribution of wetland plants.

Read more about this project and other science news via the bi-monthly 'Breakthrough' Science Newsletter.