Orchids – Canary in the coal mine for climate change
Australia's orchid flora is highly diverse, with approximately 80% of the world's terrestrial species and very high endemism. However, orchids are highly susceptible to environmental change and many species are threatened. A complex set of factors is thought to be contributing to declines in orchid populations, including past and present habitat destruction, small population sizes, florivory, altered fire regimes and pollination deficits. Within this context, climate change has emerged as a key threat that is causing the timing of orchid flowering to shift but also has the potential to change habitat suitability for orchids and to disrupt interactions with the pollinator communities that orchids rely on for reproduction.