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  The increasing susceptibility of tropical rainforests to fire and their post-fire recovery


   College of Science and Engineering

   Applications accepted all year round  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Contact: Professor Susan Laurance (),

College of Science and Engineering

James Cook University, Cairns, Qld 4878

PhD Title: The increasing susceptibility of tropical rainforests to fire and their post-fire recovery

Rainforest fires were considered a rare phenomenon and when they did occur, they were characterized as ground or low surface fires. Yet, in recent years large canopy fires have consumed large areas of Australian rainforests along the east coast from Tasmania to Cape York, including >300 ha in the Wet Tropics. This project aims to investigate the biological and ecological interactions of tropical forests pre and post wildfire in order to better manage these important ecosystems.

Topics of study might include:

1)    Mapping fire incursions into wet and dry rainforest communities and identify landscape and fine scale determinants;

2)    Investigate the processes of rainforest recovery post-fire by measuring re-sprouting capacity and how drought affects non-structural carbohydrates and re-sprouting post-burn;

3)    Experimentally trial different restoration methods in burned sites within wet and dry tropical forests to assess the abundance and composition of reseeding and re-sprouting species, and how fire impacts soil organic matter and infiltration rates;

4)    Investigate how drought affects the re-sprouting capacity of plants post-fire by measuring the effects of drought on non-structural carbohydrates and re-sprouting efforts post-burn.

5)    Quantifying the fuel complexes in rainforest communities with different soil properties and in different environments;

To be successful the applicant would ideally have a background in botany and plant ecology. You would either have, or be likely, to get a first-class Honours or Master’s degree at an institution of high repute. The degree must have included a research project that represents a significant contribution to the final mark. To be competitive for a scholarship an excellent GPA and/or Peer-reviewed papers are required.

If you are interested, please email me with a CV detailing your GPA (and publications) and I will let you know whether I think your skill set and academic record would place you well against the competition.

Biological Sciences (4)

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