FIRE ECOLOGY – HOW DOES FIRE ALTER THE LONG-TERM SOIL CARBON STORAGE AND RESPONSE TO GLOBAL WARMING?

Summary: Fire has modified over ~40% of the Earth’s land surface and affects ca. 4-10% of Australian land area annually. Globally, wildfire frequency is expected to increase under a warming climate. Fire can have significant impact on soil carbon (C) stock, nature and dynamics, but the feedback of fire-driven soil carbon dynamics to climate/ global warming is largely unknown.The effects of burning on soil C vary based on fire regime, soil type, vegetation and climate. However, one reasonably consistent effect is that concentration of soil C, and particularly of labile C, is reduced by fire, largely through volatilization. Fire also tends to increase levels of complex, highly-aromatic C structures (i.e. pyrogenic-C) through thermal transformation. At the same time, the community composition of soil micro-organisms, and in particular its response to environmental stimuli (e.g. warming and fire) is likely to play a strong role in C cycling processes in response to warming. This project aims to reveal the impacts of long-term fires on soil carbon stocks and global response patterns of carbon pools to warming across different biomes and associated chemical and biological mechanisms.

Scholarship supervisor(s): Prof Chengrong Chen

$6,000, paid in instalments.  These funds are not for research activities and are to support the student undertaking Honours.

GPA of 6 in their undergraduate program; enrolled full-time; study in consecutive trimesters and maintain a minimum GPA of 6.

This scholarship will be offered to commence in T1, 2021.  If there is not a successful applicant for T1, the scholarship will be offered again in T2, 2021.

Email Prof Chen: c.chen@griffith.edu.au

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