Describes the ecology of Australian deserts and how desert-dwelling plants and animals succeed.
Australian Deserts: Ecology and Landscapes is about the vast sweep of the Outback, a land of expanses making up three-quarters of the continent – the heart of Australia. Steve Morton brings his extensive first-hand knowledge and experience of arid Australia to this book, explaining how Australian deserts work ecologically.
This book outlines why unpredictable rainfall and paucity of soil nutrients underpin the nature of desert ecosystems, while also describing how plants and animals came to be desert dwellers through evolutionary time. It shows how plants use uncertain rainfall to provide for persistence of their populations, alongside outlines of the dominant animals of the deserts and explanations of the features that help them succeed in the face of aridity and uncertainty.
Richly illustrated with the photographs of Mike Gillam, this fascinating and accessible book will enhance your understanding of the nature of arid Australia.
1. Far horizons
2. Blue skies, occasional rain
3. Plant life
4. Harvesting plant life
5. Waste not
6. Invertebrate predators
7. Vertebrate predators
8. By the waterhole
9. Life in the Australian deserts
Common and scientific names
Dr Steve Morton is an Honorary Professorial Fellow with Charles Darwin University. He is an ecologist who studied at the Universities of Melbourne, California and Sydney. He joined CSIRO in Alice Springs in 1984 to work in the desert environment that has long been his focus. From 2000 until 2010, based in Canberra and Melbourne, he helped lead CSIRO as Chief of Division and Executive Team member.
"This is an important book, in that it helps demystify the majority of the country, by area, in a clear and accessible way. It also manages to be very beautiful – did I mention that the photos are superb? And yes, I really do love this book."
– Ian Fraser, Natural History Reviews #30, January 2022
"[Morton] reads the landscape with a scientist's eye and an artist's heart. Australian Deserts reflects this – it is, he writes, "a narrative rather than a scientific text", and his prose is compelling and polished."
– RM Williams, Outback Magazine, 1 May 2022