The map below traces our destinations as well as emphasising both the separation of Australia from the main continental masses and the dominance of the Pacific Ocean to an outside observer. The various regions have several common features: relative remoteness and difficult access (until recently); long-term indigenous or extensive animal communities with recent western infiltration and resource development; proximity to a significant “climate-related hotspot” (e.g. oceanic choke-point or vertical welling, tipping point location, biodiversity hub); and being subject to strong impacts from climate variability or change.
Each region we visited had island-like characteristics that have encouraged biodiversity in the past but led to subsequent ecotourism or resource-tapping. If conditions on an island change and produce adverse effects, what options are there? Historically, evolution (natural selection of more adaptive mutations or epigenetically-changed individuals) has produced those that can adapt and hence thrive. If the regional climate tips into another regime (especially if the change is abrupt as has happened in the past), then the frequency of unpredictable weather and extremes may make even rapid evolutionary processes ineffective to meet the challenges of a totally new environment.