Powerlink Queensland is a government-owned corporation managing 15,000 kilometres of transmission lines across the state, many of which run through national parks and state forests. The easements through which the powerlines run have undergone changes in plant community composition which might lead to a build up of fuel, posing a fire risk. For example, if weed species invade the open spaces under powerlines, the increased biomass and change in plant structure might increase the likelihood of ignition or the rate of fire spread.
In this project, we will examine if fuel loads and plant structure pose hazards along powerline easements.

We will apply a functional traits framework to understand the characteristics of plants invading the easements and whether these functional groups have increased flammability. The project will combine existing data from far-north Queensland, with new data collected during the honours year, to develop generalisations about the conditions under powerlines and how they relate to the surrounding vegetation. Given the huge spatial scale of this project, the functional traits framework is necessary to look for spatially consistent patterns that could be used to provide generalised guidelines to managers.

Location: Gatton campusand will involve field work at five locations in SEQ, all within 1-3 hr from campus.

Supervisors: Dr Annabel Smith and Dr Shane Campbell

Before you apply: contact the primary supervisor for more details: annabel.smith@uq.edu.au

Project start subject to: Approval from Powerlink and obtaining permits from QPWS and other relevant land holders.

Project members

Dr Annabel Smith

Lecturer in Wildlife Management
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences

Dr Shane Campbell

Senior Lecturer in Pasture Sc & Agr
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences