The Department of Sustainability and Environment‚Äės Flora Information System records 512 flora records within the resort, 342 or 86% of which are indigenous.¬† Ecological Vegetation Classes (EVC‚Äôs) are the primary level of classification for native vegetation within Victoria.¬† They describe native vegetation communities including floristic, life form and ecological characteristics. Five EVC‚Äôs have been identified within the resort.¬† For further information on EVC‚Äôs and descriptions of Victoria‚Äôs bioregions including the Victorian Alps visit the DSE website www.dse.vic.gov.au
The most widespread EVC within the resort found along high elevation ridges and upper slopes is the Sub Alpine Woodland dominated by the Snow Gum (Eucalyptus Pauciflora).¬† Downslope the woodlands intergrade with montane forests mostly dominated by Alpine Ash (Eucalyptus delegatensis) and Mountain Gum (Eucalyptus dalrympleana).
Above the treeline the Subalpine Treeless Mosaic occurs typically in higher elevation areas such as Mount Hotham and Mount Higginbotham.¬† Growth here is limited by the climatic extremes.¬† Some of the more significant vegetation here includes the habitat of the Mountain Pigmy Possum Burramys parvus.¬† Classified under the current EVC‚Äôs as Alpine Coniferous Shrubland it is typically low open heathland restricted to rocky sites in basalt boulderfields ranging in altitude from 1400m through to 1780m and dominated by Mountain Plum Pine (Podocarpus lawrencei).
Identified as having state significance under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, Alpine snow patch communities are restricted to south and southeast facing slopes on large, concave, sheltered slopes of higher altitude. Snow accumulates on these sheltered slopes and remains on these sites one to two months longer than adjoining areas. The vegetation is generally shorter and dominated in the upper parts by Snow Daisy (Celmisia) species and downslope by Horny Snow-grass. Another community listed under the Act the Alpine Bog vegetation is found in permanently wet sites, normally composed of a Sphagnum Moss layer with a sparse to dense cover of shrubs. In addition to Sphagnum, this community is dominated by Candle Heath (Richea continentis).
Alpine grasslands includes Poa costiniana and Poa hiemata.¬† Poa costiniana is generally found on basalt areas and contains dense tussocks of Poa and periodically water filled depressions. Poa hiemata tussock grassland contains a variety of herbaceous species within the tussock spaces and is predominantly found on gentle slopes of metamorphic rock type.
Rich in alpine species diversity, the resort burst into flower between November and February.¬† It is a wonderful time to visit the area and the Resort Management Board stocks several books to help you identify species as you explore.¬† A self guided walk ecology walk brochure is available to help you identify communities of ecological significance.
Indigenous fauna recorded within the Resort includes 27 mammal, 63 bird, 14 reptile, five frog and one fish taxon.¬† ¬†Recorded mammals include the Mountain Pigmy Possum (see MPP tab), Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Black Wallaby, Platypus, Short Beak Echidna, Common Wombat, Common Ringtail and Brushtail Possum,¬† Broad-tooth Rat and Bush Rat and a variety of small bats.¬† Birds include the Wedge tail Eagle, Magpie, Kookaburra, Hawk Owl, Crimson Rosella, Flame Robin and a variety of honeyeaters.¬† Mountain Galaxias is the single native fish found in streams within the resort.¬†
Distribution throughout the Resort is largely related to habitat requirements. Habitat preferences are related to the vegetation, either directly, through the food, shelter or breeding sites it provides, or indirectly, through factors such as topography, soil type and temperature.
A study of invertebrates conducted by Rosengren at al. (1993) in Orchard ski field area listed 25 orders of invertebrates, 28 families representing 49 genera and 85 species were found.¬† Coleoptera was the most diverse order, with at least 13 families and 41 species. Orthoptera were the next diverse in terms of species, with 17 species found, represented by four families. Fifteen species of Hymenoptera were found and 12 species of Lepidoptera.
The most well known invertebrate taxa within the Resort are the Bogong Moth (Agrotis infusa). The Bogong Moth migrates to the Victorian Alps and Snowy Mountains in spring from the inland plains of eastern Australia, to aestivate in rock crevices and periglacial block streams. It forms an important part of the Mountain Pygmy-possums (Burramys parvus) diet and is heavily exploited, especially by females during the breeding season.