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Some Researchers consider that Australia is divided into two major regions, a Tropical northern and a Temperate southern region.

Other Researchers consider that Australia should be further divided into five major Biogeographic Zones which can be used to describe the distribution of most intertidal animals and algae.

The difficulty is that most animals and algae don't read research papers, so they occur around the Australian coast dependent upon the environmental and biological conditions which limit their distribution.

So, although many species do confirm to the artificial biogeographic pattern imposed upon them by humans, many do not. Look at the distribution pattern of the various animals and algae in the website and see if they match a biogeographic zone, or not.

Graphic of the Biogeaographical Zones of Australia

In the Tropical Region , the Western Tropical Zone extends from Shark Bay across northern Australia to Cape York in Queensland, and the Eastern Tropical Zone extends from from Cape York down the Queensland coast to Fraser Island.

In the Temperate Region, the Western Warm Temperate Zone extends from near Shark Bay around south-western Australia and across southern Australia to Cape Otway in Victoria, and north-western Tasmania. The Eastern Warm Temperate Zone extends from Fraser Island down the New South Wales coastline to Cape Otway in Victoria, including north-eastern Tasmania.

Superimposed across the Victorian shores, surrounding Tasmania and extending across South Australian shores is a Cool Temperate Zone with animals and algae suited to more cooler waters.


Bennett, I. (1987) W. J. Dakin's classic study: Australian Seashores. p. 3-12, Angus & Robertson, Sydney.

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p.8, New Holland, Sydney.

Eastern Warm Temperate
Western Warm Temperate
Cool Temperate
Eastern Tropical
Western Tropical

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photo of Keith DaveyLife on Australian Seashores
by Keith Davey (C) 2000

Learning Consultant - Media
The University of Newcastle

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Scientific Consultant: Phil Colman
site created 01.01.98 : updated 01.04.2000