A Flora and Fauna Survey of Woody Island
Faust, Mara K.
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Woody Island is one of about 100 islands that make up the Archipelago of the Recherche, located on the southern coast of Western Australia, to the south and south-east of Esperance. It has the highest diversity ofland plants ofany ofthe islands in the Archipelago, and is also inhabited by many species of birds, a handful of reptiles, and two mammals. Although the island was used throughout the last century for logging and sheep grazing, tourist use did not begin until 1973. Today, Mackenzie's Island Cruises operates camping facilities on the north-eastern side of the island. There has been some debate about the effects that tourism may be having on the island, and no completely comprehensive survey of plants and animals has been carried out. This report presents a compilation of the results of all of the surveys that have been carried out on Woody, as well as the results of the current study, carried out in December 2002. Vegetation, birds, reptiles, and mammals were surveyed. Vegetation data was the least thorough due to the size of the island, and data varied greatly between researchers. Bird data varied less, and seems to be composed of permanent residents of the island and visitors from other islands and the mainland. Only two species of skink and one species of gecko were found in the current survey, but others have been found in earlier surveys. The only mammals on the island are the ship rat and the western grey kangaroo. The effects of tourism on Woody Island are difficult to determine because no baseline data is available. There are species that seem to have disappeared, most notably the ashy-grey mouse. More comprehensive data needs to be obtained before tourism is allowed to expand.