PhD: Ecohydrology and Ecosystem Function on the Fletcherview Savanna Rangeland and Cattle Station via FindAPhD

James Cook University

Townsville QLD, Australia 🇦🇺

About the Project

Almost all terrestrial life lives within the Earth’s thin ‘skin’, a 100-200m high zone, stretching from bedrock, through aquifers, soil and the biosphere to the top of plant canopies in the atmosphere. This region is the Critical Zone. The Critical Zone provides essential, life-sustaining Critical Zone Services, and these services underpin the economic, social, cultural and environmental wellbeing of all Australians.

Major environmental challenges in Australia such as land degradation and dryland salinity, eutrophication of inland waters, and vegetation stress/drought mortality are intimately tied to the disruption of ecosystem structure or function in the Critical Zone. Understanding and measuring the structure and function of the aboveground portion of the Critical Zone is performed by the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network of Australia (, which has established infrastructure at James Cook University’s Fletcherview Tropical Rangeland SuperSite. Belowground infrastructure has also been established with funding from the ARC at the Fletcherview field station to ensure that we can obtain a complete picture of the Critical Zone.

My lab—the Centre for Plants, Atmosphere and Water—can provide an opportunity to perform your studies in the areas of soil science, ecohydrology, plant ecophysiology, ecosystem function, or savanna biodiversity.

The PhD may investigate:

  • The role of cattle management on savanna ecosystem structure and function
  • The control of ecosystem photosynthesis and respiration by soil dynamics and water availability
  • Patterns of vegetation phenology as it relates to drought, flooding, unseasonal rainfall, or climate change/climate extremes
  • Patterns of soil chemical and physical properties and subsurface water flow
  • Uptake of carbon by savanna ecosystems




IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development