TS-CRC Student project - Impact of disturbance on nutrient dynamics in low nutrient tropical savannas

University of Queensland

Liz Poon

Aims | Progress | More Information |

The effects of clearing vegetation on ecosystem function, particularly in terms of nutrient cycling in tropical savannas is little known or understood. This project is part of Dr Susanne Schmidt’s research activity The functional role of trees in nutrient dynamics, which is part of a wider Tropical Savannas CRC project exploring the effects of disturbance on savanna landscape ecology. This activity investigates the impact of tree clearing on nutrient relations of low nutrient tropical savannas.


The project aims to measure the movement of nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and other micro- and macro- nutrients, within trees and grasses and surrounding soils, in disturbed and relatively undisturbed landscapes, at different topographic positions within the landscape. Results will increase our understanding of nutrient dynamics in trees and grasses within such savanna landscapes, and this can contribute to the future management of savannas.


Exact research plans are still being formulated, and I am in the process of developing research questions that, when answered, will hopefully increase understanding of the nutrient cycle in the savannas of the Dalrymple Shire in north Queensland.

These questions may include what are the limiting nutrients in this particular system, how much and where/if they are being lost from the system and the effects of different plant species, landscape position and disturbance (such as tree clearing or grazing) on their spatial distribution within the system.