Eungella rainforest

Queensland's environments & biodiversity

Queensland is Australia's second largest state but its most biodiverse , find out about Queensland’s unique environments and biodiversity.


Our relationship with the environment is a central part of the human experience. Environment influences where our food and water comes from. As a result, environmental changes, whether due to natural causes or human impact, present significant challenges to our everyday life.

Queensland's unique environment poses it is own set of challenges. We are responsible for caring for the world’s largest reef system, the Great Barrier Reef, which reaches from the tip of Cape York to Fraser Island and is a recognised World Heritage site. On land, we have to manage environments which range from the tropics of the north to the semi-arid of the interior. Queensland Museum’s work in biodiversity - studying the plants and animals of different areas - is helping Queensland to meet these challenges.

The museum's biodiversity researchers, working alongside palaeontologists and environmental archaeologists, are able to give us an insight into how the Australian environment has changed over time. Together, these researchers can piece together how Queensland’s unique fauna and flora developed, how and why some species became extinct, what impact human settlement has had, and what we can do today to conserve Queensland’s natural heritage.

This information is becoming increasingly important as Queenslanders face the problems of global climate change. Together, the researchers at Queensland Museum are looking to the past, present and future to help us all manage the state’s distinctive environment.

Common questions

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest living reef ecosystem and forms part of the largest World Heritage Area, recognising its exceptional natural beauty, biological diversity and complexity, and geomorphology values.

The GBR consists of a network of over 2,900 coral reefs rising from a continental shelf area of 224,000 km2, stretching 2,300 km north to south along its outer perimeter, and extending 23 to 260 km eastwards from the Queensland coast.

Queensland contains five terrestrial climatic zones ranging from temperate to tropical humid, and two marine climate zones inshore (tropical and subtropical). It also has 5 of Australia’s 13 World Heritage Areas including the Great Barrier Reef, Wet Tropics and Gondwana Rainforests of Australia.

Queensland terrestrial environments are divided into 18 distinct regions (bioregions) differentiated on the basis of their broad landscape patterns such as geology, climate and the plants and animals that form them. These bioregions range from the arid desert uplands to the highly diverse wet tropical rainforests of far north Queensland.

The marine environments surrounding Queensland include 10 marine provinces and 14 of the 60 Australian marine bioregions, with varied habitats ranging from mangroves to deep sea trenches and abyssal plane, and considered to be the most species-rich marine biome in Australia. These marine and terrestrial bioregions are divided further into numerous ecosystems and habitats.

Research by Queensland Museum scientists contributes to the documentation of how species respond and adapt to change, for both the fossil and living faunas. Our goal is to investigate the impacts and responses by species to climate change phenomena, from the perspective of small changes in distributions (time frames of several years), to medium term habitat shifts at the landscape level (periods spanning 20–100 years), to long term changes at the evolutionary level of geological time scales (millions of years).



Discover more

Did you know you don't have to come to the museum to see our collection?

Over 1 million specimens are now accessible from our biodiversity collection online for free. All you need is your device and a little bit of inspiration to explore Queensland’s cultural and natural heritage.

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