Carbon storage ecosystems’ post-disturbance dynamics in an Australian coastal area

Theme: Biodiversity & Ecology

Main Supervisor:

Lourdes Lopez-Merino

Institute for the Environment, BRUNEL

Second Supervisor:

David Horne

Geography, QMUL

Project Description:

The increasing rate of degradation of carbon-storage ecosystems (e.g. wetlands, mangroves, seagrasses) demands further knowledge on their functioning. Lake Macleod is a Western Australian saline coastal lake in an arid, fire-prone area, decadally flooded by freshwater, enabling the existence of an exclusive collection of aquatic systems such as saline wetlands and mangroves.

Its proximity to the coast makes it remarkable due to the existence of seagrass meadows. The area is mined for salt extraction, and the desert extreme habitat conditions make it very sensitive to impacts, including also climate.

This studentship will deal with the palaeoecological study (palynology, charcoal, ostracods, geochemistry) of three ecosystems – saline wetland, mangrove swamp and seagrass meadow – using sedimentary records covering the last millennia with the aim of 1) detecting post-disturbance dynamics to human/climate impacts, and 2) comparing whether the three systems responded similarly to them.

Policy Impact of Research:

The understanding of long-term dynamics will aid in detecting impacts causing ecosystems degradation, and in providing clues for their restoration.

Findings will be shared with NGOs and policy-makers to have a societal impact, and published in high-impact journals to impact on Academia.


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