Rehabilitation of mined landscapes in the Jarrah Forest ecosystems of south-west Western Australia involves large-scale application of species-rich seed mixes. To improve seed use efficiency for species with problematic propagation requirements this project aims to develop a range of ecologically informed dormancy and seed enhancement technology applications. Within a PhD program there is the potential to study a number of areas focused on seed recruitment ecology of problematic species:
- Intra- and inter-specific variation between populations or collections years. This could include laboratory-based measures of depth of initial seed dormancy amongst populations, defined through response to smoke (including focus on plasticity in smoke response), and wet/dry and stratification treatments to characterise species or population differences and to refine procedures to increase the germination response.
- Dormancy status/cycling in the soil seed bank (and role of smoke in this) through burial and retrieval studies, to examine dormancy loss in soil, including timing of onset and rate of embryo-growth, timing and rate of emergence, seed persistence in soil. These types of burial experiments have not been conducted in detail for Jarrah forest ecosystems, and they could include comparisons of seeds in forest vs rehab sites.
- The efficacy of the lab-based dormancy pre-treatments in promoting seedling emergence of seeds sown in rehabilitation, overlayed with timing of seed sowing, or other treatments including priming in smoke/KAR
- Along with the ecophysiology work, experiments would encompass approaches to develop reliable and practical germination promoting pre-treatments. Based on previous work, this would focus at least initially on variations of wet/dry cycling treatments, including efforts to simplify the number of steps whilst maximising the benefit and repeatability (through considering timing/duration of exposure to different temperatures or watering treatments, the role of light/dark at different stages, timing of application of smoke).
Available in Round 2 2021 for Domestic and International Students in Australia