Grazing is the major economic activity in Australia’s savannas across >1.9 million km2 of which about half are degraded. Restoration and sustainable grazing management rely on ecosystem services. In these landscapes, biocrusts consisting of cyanobacteria, bacteria, algae, fungi and non-vascular plants are important for soil fertility. Cyanobacteria are important to savannah soil fertility as carbon and nitrogen-fixing ecosystem engineers. This project examines the effect fire and cattle grazing on cyanobacterial crusts under different fire frequencies.  Cyanobacterial species richness and abundance will be analysed to determine what effect fire has on the cyanobacterial community structure. Microscopic examination of cyanobacteria and physical tests of the mats will provide important information that builds a picture of how carbon and nitrogen cycling may be affected by fire and grazing. Outcomes of this research project will result in taking part in the publication of the results in the context of grazing management issues.

This project is available to Honours and Postgraduate Coursework students.

Opportunities exist for more in-depth PhD research projects to be developed from these studies.

Project members

Principal Advisor:

Associate Professor Victor Galea

Deputy Head of School
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
Affiliated Associate Professor
Centre for Crop Science

Associate Supervisors:

Dr Miriam Munoz Rojas (UNSW)

Dr Wendy Williams

Honorary Fellow
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences

Professor Susanne Schmidt

Professor
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
Affiliated Professor
Centre for Horticultural Science