Photo Lauren Hallett
Honours Research Project

Facilitation among nearest neighbours can be important for species persistence in stressful environmental conditions. Plants that help other plants are sometimes referred to as ‘nurse plants’ reflecting their role in the community. There is evidence for nurse plants in Spain, but less for south-western Australia, despite plants in both places sharing a similarly stressful environment. This project will explore evidence for facilitation by cluster-root forming species. These species are hypothesised to increase the availability of soil nutrients to their neighbours. Interest in plants and glasshouse-based research is essential. This project is in collaboration with Dr Felipe Albornoz (CSIRO).

Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com
Honours Research Project

The diversity of life in soils is truly remarkable. A teaspoon of productive soil can contain as many as one billion bacteria, not to mention fungi and other life forms! Until recently, soil microbes were largely undescribed and understudied, owing to the complexity of the task. Consequently, while it was acknowledged that soil microbes played critical roles in ecosystem functions, the details were frustratingly scant. Newly available molecular tools offer the opportunity to peer inside this ‘black box’ and measure microbial diversity like never before. This project will explore the diversity of soil microbes in native and agricultural systems of ten Australian biomes using DNA sequencing technology. Interest in data analysis essential. This project is in collaboration with Dr Felipe Albornoz (CSIRO).

Photo Luisa Ducki

Honours Research Project

Around the world, nutrient-poor soils are often home to high levels of plant diversity. In particular, phosphorus limited soils support a surprising number of co-occuring plants. Many plants that occupy this niche have specialised nutrient-acquisition strategies. This project will explore the relationship between soil nutrients, plant diversity, nutrient-acquisition strategies, and leaf nutrient levels of commonly occurring plant species. The data would contribute to a global dataset. Interest in field work and identifying plant species is essential. This project needs to start mid-year to suit the spring field season.

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