Out of the OCBILs: New hypotheses for the evolution, ecology and conservation of the eucalypts

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OCBIL theory is a multi-hypothesis formulation aimed towards an understanding of the evolution, ecology and conservation of biological and cultural diversity on old, climatically buffered, infertile landscapes (OCBILs). OCBILs have been in existence contemporaneously with rainforest since Gondwanan times. Such landscapes are common in areas of eucalypt species richness embraced by Australia's two Global Biodiversity Hotspots, the Southwest Australian Floristic Region and the Forests of East Australia. Here, I summarize evidence pertaining to the eucalypts in the context of a recent reformulation of OCBIL theory into 12 evolutionary, ecological and cultural hypotheses and ten conservation management hypotheses. A compelling argument emerges for a new interpretation of the eucalypts evolving out of the OCBILs, rather than out of the rainforests as traditionally interpreted. This calls for a significant reinterpretation of best conservation management of the eucalypts. For example, traditional ideas on application of fire in eucalypt communities regarded as well adapted to this disturbance need to give way to a more nuanced and cautious view. This review of eucalypts seen as evolving out of the OCBILs helps in understanding the group from several new perspectives. Interpretation of other sedentary plant and animal groups as out of the OCBILs is commended for further study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-372
Number of pages31
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


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