University Students Lighting the Way for Cutting Edge Fire Research

biidiversity researchFor the second time in five years, a student from Griffith University and for the first time a student from The University of Queensland have been awarded the South East Queensland (SEQ) Fire and Biodiversity Consortium’s Research Student Scholarship to undertake cutting edge fire research.  The Student Scholarship Program, funded and administered by the SEQ Fire and Biodiversity Consortium, aims to provide financial assistance and research support to an honours, masters or PhD student undertaking research into applied fire ecology or fire management in the SEQ bioregion.

The scholarship assessment team were again challenged by the high calibre of applications from students undertaking valuable and practical fire research.  However, two applications where chosen and stood out as potentially providing very useful information for fire ecologists and fire managers in south east Queensland. The first successful recipient, Orpheus Butler, from the Griffith School of Environment, will undertake his PhD research into responses of litter invertebrate fauna communities to fire-induced litter carbon : nitrogen : phosphorus ratio shifts.  Orpheus aims to answer the following questions: (1) Are fire-induced changes in litter fauna abundances and community composition linked to fire-induced shifts in litter C:N:P ratios?; and (2) Does biennial burning at Peachester alter the stoichiometry of litter fauna biomass?.

The study will be carried out in Peachester State Forest in south-eastern Queensland, which has hosted a long-term prescribed burning experiment since 1972. Toberman et al. (2014) found that the leaf litter in the 2yB and NB treatments at Peachester had significantly different C:P and N:P ratios, therefore samples of litter, soil and litter fauna were obtained in March, November 2015 and March 2016.

Orpheus spoke at the SEQFBC Fire and Weeds Forum held in Brisbane last year within our regular spot highlighting SEQ Fire and Biodiversity Research. His presentation titled “Stoichiometric patterns in the responses of organisms, ecosystems and landscapes to fire. Litter fauna responses to frequent burning in Peachester State Forest” received the most questions from participants and can be viewed if you click here.

The Second recipient, Brook Williams, Honours Student of the University of Queensland, School of Biological Sciences will be exploring future fire management options that maximise outcomes for both asset protection and conservation. New spatial optimisation methods will be developed and applied to assist environmental managers in the City of the Gold Coast to allocate limited funds to fire management in the context of competing objectives. It is expected that the results of this study will support managers in making more informed and transparent decisions. To read more click here.

The 5th Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference will be held at Jupiters Gold Coast, QLD on the 30-31 May 2016. The Conference theme ‘EARTH, FIRE and RAIN’ will continue to examine issues that impact preparedness, resilience, response and capability.

To register for the conference CLICK HERE. Early Bird Registrations Close: Monday 18 April 2016 so be quick to receive a discounted rate.