Wetlands are among earth’s most efficient ecosystems for carbon sequestration, yet this capacity can be offset by emission of methane. Recent research indicates that wetland trees can be an important pathway for methane emissions in some systems (1). Various aspects of this pathway are largely unquantified and there are many dimensions that remain relatively unknown (2). Hence, this emerging topic has considerable scope for significant new discoveries (3).
This project involves determining methane flux from freshwater wetland trees species and will employ cutting-edge techniques, including portable greenhouse gas analysers and use of isotopic signatures. Investigations will include exploring the spatial, temporal and seasonal CH4 dynamics of tree-stems with a view to furthering our understanding of key processes, drivers and their overall significance in methane budgets.
We are offering an opportunity for an excellent PhD candidate to work with Professor Scott Johnston and Associate Professor Damien Maher on this innovative project that will explore tree-mediated methane emission in freshwater wetlands in Australia. The successful student would be part of a vibrant research group focusing on carbon cycling in wetland systems. Candidates will undertake / participate in both field-based investigations and controlled laboratory-based studies in Australian coastal wetland systems under varied seasonal conditions.
Expressions of Interest are invited from outstanding and enthusiastic graduates with a first class honours degree or Masters degree or equivalent in Environmental Geochemistry.
• The applicant’s qualifications should include experience studying environmental systems via field experiments, ideally with some experience using automated greenhouse gas analysers
• Very high degree of proficiency in both written and spoken English (strict criteria apply for non-native English speakers).
• Experience in collecting field data and capacity to undertake independent fieldwork.
• The applicant’s academic background must be strong enough to qualify her/him for a scholarship, stipend and fee (tuition) waiver.
(1) Pangala, S.R., Enrich-Prast, A., Basso, L.S., Peixoto, R.B., Bastviken, D., Hornibrook, E.R.C., Gatti, L.V., Marotta, H., Calazans, L.S.B., Sakuragui, C.M., Bastos, W.R., Malm, O., Gloor, E., Miller, J.B. and Gauci, V. (2017) Large emissions from floodplain trees close the Amazon methane budget. Nature 552, 230.
(2) Barba, J., Bradford, M.A., Brewer, P.E., Bruhn, D., Covey, K., van Haren, J., Megonigal, J.P., Mikkelsen, T.N., Pangala, S.R., Pihlatie, M., Poulter, B., Rivas-Ubach, A., Schadt, C.W., Terazawa, K., Warner, D.L., Zhang, Z. and Vargas, R. (2019) Methane emissions from tree stems: a new frontier in the global carbon cycle. New Phytologist 222, 18-28.
(3) Jeffrey, L.C., Reithmaier, G., Sippo, J.Z., Johnston, S.G., Tait, D.R., Harada, Y. and Maher, D.T. (2019) Are methane emissions from mangrove stems a cryptic carbon loss pathway? Insights from a catastrophic forest mortality. New Phytologist https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.15995