Townsville is in the dry tropics, average annual rainfall 1100 mm with a distinct monsoonal pattern. The surrounding vegetation is chiefly eucalypt dominated woodland; rainforest occurs on nearby ranges; along the coastal lowlands there are extensive Melaleuca woodlands and some large wetland areas which are very important bird habitats; mangrove communities and associated areas of saltpan are commonly found along the creeks and estuaries. These are important nurseries for fish. Marine life abounds offshore around the fringing reefs and in the deeper water of the Great Barrier Reef. This diversity of habitats results in high diversity of flora and fauna, hence many students find themselves undertaking exercises and assignments in these areas.