APEC-Australia Women in Research
Dr. Darshanaa Chellaiah
Host Institution: University of Sunshine Coast
Project Title: Impact of fire on ecosystem function in subtropical peat swamp forests of K´gari Island.
K'gari (Fraser Island) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with global importance as the largest barrier sand island in the world. Subtropical peat swamps occur throughout the island, particularly on the western side. Despite their importance, they have barely been studied, with nothing known of the impact of the 2019-2020 fires on the integrity of this ecosystem. Previously, there have been studies on vegetation recovery
following the bushfires, but much remains unknown, particularly the impact of fires on the ecology and ecosystem services. We aim to investigate the influence of past fires on biotic and abiotic conditions that are crucial for nutrient cycling and ecosystem function. Specifically, we will assess the impact of the 2019-2020 bushfires on K´gari on peat and water chemico-physical conditions, and in turn how this influences organic matter sequestration relative to decomposition rates. This is crucial as peat swamps rely on leaf litter as their major source of nutrients, hence changes in sequestration/decomposition rates can severely alter their ecosystem structure and function. This is a pioneer study to obtain baseline data to increase understanding of the impact of fire to inform the management and conservation of subtropical peat swamps.
Reasons for applying for fellowship:
This fellowship will develop and strengthen my current knowledge of sustainable land management issues, as well as foster collaborations with a respected Australian institution and experts with interrelated and parallel studies related to wide-ranging sustainability topics which will develop my professional career.
Bröderna Edlunds Donationsfond (Nov 2020) – Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Travel studentship for ICOPE (Apr 2018) – University of Cambridge & SMARTi, Indonesia
EOI for Genomics Seeding Grant (Oct 2015), PI – Monash University Genomics Facility
Rufford Small Grants for Nature Conservation (Sept 2015), PI – The Rufford Foundation
Higher Degree by Research Scholarship (Mar - Aug 2017) – Monash University Malaysia
MyBrain15 (Sept 2014 - Feb 2017) – Ministry of Education Malaysia
Higher Degree by Research Scholarship (Apr 2014 - Apr 2018) – Monash University Malaysia
Honours Academic Scholarship (Feb 2012) – Monash University Malaysia
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