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Bushfire 2016

Griffith University and The University of Queensland Students Lighting the Way for Cutting Edge Fire Research

For 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 here: http://www.fireandbiodiversity.org.au/pastConferences.html
See the following article about Orpheus here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160817101526.htm

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.

Dr Samantha Lloyd, Manager of the Consortium is extremely pleased with this outcome.  “I am thrilled with the project we are supporting this year and believe Orpheus and Brooke will follow in the success of our previous scholarship recipients.  They both show the academic ability and determination required to successfully complete the respective projects and is supported by a great team within the Griffith School of Environment and University of Queensland, School of Biological Sciences and I am sure the outcomes will be of relevance and practical use to fire ecologists and fire managers in south east Queensland”, said Dr Lloyd.

Communication to SEQ Fire and Biodiversity Consortium’s stakeholders will be delivered through various avenues throughout 2015 - 2016.  For further information on the successful projects, the scholarship program or on the SEQ Fire and Biodiversity Consortium, please visit please visit: www.fireandbiodiversity.org.au.

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