Role of Fire in Shrub encroachment in Alpine NSW
The alpine region of snowy mountains is an extremely important ecosystem in terms of biodiversity, water production and carbon sequestration. However, the extent to which fire, and to a lesser degree, grazing, drive plant production and biodiversity in alpine regions of the Snowy mountains is poorly understood. Preliminary research suggests that encroachment of shrubs, in particular, Leafy Bossiaea (Bossiaea foliosa) and alpine pepper (Tasmannia xerophila) in the unburnt sites have increased. Previous research into shrub encroachment from across the world has observed that this can lead to changes in plant biodiversity, production, water production and carbon sequestration as well as changes to fire regimes. There is however little if any research for Australian alpine ecosystems and thus this project will focus on the causes and impact of shrub encroachment on these alpine ecosystems as well as determining the role shrubs play as drivers of fire regimes. The research sites for this project (HighFire Project) are located in the Snowy Mountains of southern NSW.
This primary objective of this project is to examine the role fire and grazing have on biodiversity and plant production, with a specific interest in the autoecology and fire ecology of the dominant shrubs. While the initial focus of this project will be to analyse previously collected data, the majority of this project will be field-based experiments and thus will involve an appreciable amount of time in the field. The student will be required to develop skills in plant community analysis, fire ecology, forest science, fuel loads, soil biogeochemistry and plant physiology.
This project will be based at the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment’s new Centre for Carbon, Water and Food, Camden.
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The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1844
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