Biodiversity publications archive

Australia's biodiversity: an overview of selected significant components

Biodiversity series, Paper no. 2
Biodiversity Unit
Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories
, 1994



This paper was principally prepared by Josephine Mummery and Neal Hardy of the Biodiversity Unit within the Commonwealth Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories (DEST). Input from other members of the Biodiversity Unit and the DEST Portfolio is acknowledged, as is that from the Biological Diversity Advisory Committee.

This paper has been refereed by Mr Graeme Beach; Ms Pam Beesley; Dr John Benzie; Mr John Briggs; Dr John Clarkson; Dr Hal Cogger; Professor Jack Elix; Dr Malcolm Gill; Mr Roger Good; Dr Penny Greenslade; Dr Surrey Jacobs; Dr Peter Kershaw; Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick; Dr John Kuo; Dr Sam Lake; Dr Byron Lamont; Dr Peter Last; Dr John Paxton; Dr Winston Ponder; Dr Jim Puckridge; Dr Pat Quilty; Professor Barry Richardson; Dr Craig Sanderson; Dr Richard Schodde; Dr Ron Strahan; Dr Leon Zann

Note on taxonomy

The taxonomic system used by zoologists and botanists to classify organisms is hierarchical. The only taxonomic unit (taxon; plural taxa) that actually exists in nature is the species, generally identified by reproductive isolation from other species. Species that are very similar are placed in the same genus. Similar genera are then placed in the same family and families are grouped into orders and classes. Above this the classification is subphylum and phylum (plural phyla) for animals, and division for plants. For example:


Division - Magnoliophyta
Class - Dicotyledonae
Order - Myrtales
Family - Myrtaceae
Genus - Eucalyptus
Species - Eucalyptus regnans


Phylum - Arthropoda
Class - Insecta
Order - Hymenoptera
Family - Formicidae
Genus - Nothomyrmecia
Species - Nothomyrmecia macrops