PhD opportunity: Tasmanian fire refugia
Predicting fire refugia to help protect Tasmania’s palaeoendemic plants
The Fire Centre is looking for a PhD candidate on predicting fire refugia to help protect Tasmania’s palaeoendemic plants. This would be an exciting project for someone with an interest in field work, conservation management of vegetation and who has good numeric skills. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applicants should contact the primary supervisor, and submit their Expression of Interest (EOI) and Application as soon as possible.
The Research Project
This project will identify areas of fire refugia in Tasmania and how these relate to one of the most precious components of the Tasmania biota: the palaeo-endemic flora. It will be built around a combination of modelling and field work and will contribute directly to the management of these important areas and plants.
The western Tasmania wilderness areas have small globally important centres for palaeo-endemic plants, including important Gondwanan relicts. The palaeo-endemics are mostly susceptible to fire and mainly persist in fire refugia: small areas of the landscape with topographic and climatic protection from fire. This project would develop a geospatial model to identify fire refugia and then link the model to the palaeo-endemics, resulting in a map to help fire managers to prioritise areas to protect in the case of wilderness fires.
Hotter and drier future climates will have a detrimental impact on fire refugia, but some areas should be more resilient in the long term. The project will therefore project the model of refugia into the future to help understand the effect of climate change on the viability of refugia. It will use reserve design prioritisation approaches to rank the fire refugia from most to least vulnerable.