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Friday, 03 May 2024 00:58

Research Grant for the Conservation of Bushland 2024

We are pleased to announce that the recipient of this years’ award is Solomon Maerowitz-McMahan for his project entitled Exploring Mycorrhizal Resilience: Insights from Post-Hazard Reduction Burns in Ku-ring-gai Chase Forests.

Solomon is a PhD candidate at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University, specialising in fungal ecology. His work aims to quantify soil functions across diverse ecosystems and advocating for the preservation of natural resources on a global scale. Through investigating fire-induced adaptations of mycorrhizal fungi, he endeavours to inform land management practices that nurture ecological resilience.

The intersection between fire and fungal ecology is largely unexplored, with little functional understanding of the mechanisms through which fire impacts fungi. While previous research has shed light on the unique attributes aiding plant and animal survival in fire-affected ecosystems, studying fungi in the soil poses distinct challenges, often requiring indirect methods. Mycorrhizal fungi, forming symbiotic relationships with plants, play pivotal roles in these landscapes, influencing decomposition, nutrient cycling, and plant productivity. This project aims to highlight the role that mycorrhizal fungi play in fire-affected ecosystems and the methods that can be used to study these fungi. Drawing insights from forested sites across the Sydney basin, including Ku-ring-gai, and spanning Australia, we aim to untangle the direct and indirect effects of fire on mycorrhizal fungi and enhance our understanding of their impact on ecosystem recovery post-fire.

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