Aim Stratification of major differences in the biophysical features of landscapes at the continental scale is necessary to collectively assess local observations of landscape response to management actions for consistency and difference. Such a stratification is an important step in the development of generalizations concerning how landscapes respond to different management regimes. As part of the development of a comparative framework for this purpose, we propose a climate classification adapted from an existing broad scale global agro-climatic classification, which is closely aligned with natural vegetation formations and common land uses across Australia.
Location The project considered landscapes across the continent of Australia.
Methods The global agro-climatic classification was adapted by using elevation-dependent thin plate smoothing splines to clarify the spatial extents of the 18 global classes found in Australia. The clarified class boundaries were interpolated from known classes at 822 points across Australia. These classes were then aligned with the existing bioregional classification, Interim Biogeographic Regionalization for Australia IBRA 5.1.
Results The aligned climate classes reflect major patterns in plant growth temperature and moisture indices and seasonality. These in turn reflect broad differences in cropping and other land use characteristics. Fifty-two of the 85 bioregions were classified entirely into one of the 18 agro-climatic classes. The remaining bioregions were classified according to sub-bioregional boundaries. A small number of these sub-bioregions were split to better reflect agro-climatic boundaries.
Main conclusions The agro-climatic classification provided an explicit global context for the analysis. The topographic dependence of the revised climate class boundaries clarified the spatial extents of poorly sampled highland classes and facilitated the alignment of these classes with the bioregional classification. This also made the classification amenable to explicit application. The bioregional and subregional boundaries reflect discontinuities in biophysical features. These permit the integrated classification to reflect major potential differences in landscape function and response to management. The refined agro-climatic classification and its integration with the IBRA bioregions are both available for general use and assessment.