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This is one of two volumes in the series covering the vascular floras of Australia's offshore islands. It deals with Christmas Is., Cocos (Keeling) Is., Ashmore Reef and Cartier Is. (all in the Indian Ocean); the Coral Sea Islands in the Pacific; and Macquarie Is., Heard Is. and McDonald Is. in the Southern Ocean. Volume 49 deals with Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands in the Tasman Sea. For several of these territories this will be the first complete account of their vascular floras. For others, the previous descriptions are now long out of date.
For each island or island group there is an introduction to the geography, biota, physical features, climate, vegetation and history of human usage. A checklist of the species recorded for each island is followed by a key to the families present there.
Species descriptions are arranged by family rather than by island to avoid duplication when one species occurs on more than one island.
The islands dealt with in this volume cover a wide range of climatic zones:
The tropical islands have temperature ranges between 23 & 29#C, with 80-90% constant humidity and an annual rainfall of 2000-2500 mm falling mainly between December and April during monsoonal storms. Many of the islands are tiny coral atolls, some with volcanic origins. The vegetation is varied, ranging from rainforest (some with lianes and epiphytes) to grassland and seagrass meadows.
The subantarctic islands have temperatures constantly near zero degrees, and the annual rainfall is 1050-1360 mm usually as light showers on many days of the year. Snow frequently falls and Heard Is. is highly glaciated. The vegetation is characterised by fellfield, herbfield, grassland, fen & bog. Heard Island is also significant in containing Australia's only active volcano.
There are 113 families and 495 species treated in this volume. These comprise 95 families of flowering plants, 17 families of ferns and fern allies (whisk ferns, clubmosses), and a single representative of the ancient cycads.
Eleven contributors, three illustrators and eleven photographers from Australia, England, New Zealand and the United States have prepared this volume.
This volume covers 113 families and 495 species. 2 new taxa are described, as well as designations of 2 lectotypes and a neotype.