Agricultural and native vegetation systems in the Wheatbelt

Understanding the past, present and future of coupled native and agricultural landscapes

The Western Australian Wheatbelt includes a vast 15.4 million hectares of agricultural land with remnant native forest woodland that together are significant for cropping and grazing, and for their wilderness value. These landscapes provide important ecosystem services but are highly sensitive to environmental change. We will assess how agricultural and native vegetation systems in the Wheatbelt function in the present, how sensitive they have been to past climate variability and how they may respond to future change.

The aims of this project will be accomplished through systematic site-based process studies, flux tower observations, remote sensing and modelling to enable an integrated strategy to answer our research questions.

A general theme is also to integrate across temporal scales from the present day plot-based tower measurements to past variability using biogeochemical modelling, to future projections using biogeochemical modelling and climate scenarios models.

The Wheatbelt supports $2.7 billion from cropping/grazing and contains biologically significant landscapes that face significant challenges in a changing environment. We will provide tools to understand vegetation production, soil greenhouse gasses and water use from agricultural and forest lands, thereby helping to make agriculture more efficient while protecting our natural systems. Achieving our goals will aid the sustainable management of natural resources, foster ecotourism and enhance food security.

For more background information see the suggested readings below.

Suggested readings

Research team leader: Professor Jason Beringer

I lead research to determine how the Australian terrestrial biosphere will respond to climate and land use change. The focus is on the major ecosystem cycles and ecological structure for understanding ecosystem services and the impacts of people and climate. I have provided an important foundation and tools for addressing questions about the potential future impacts of change and provide options for sustainable landscape management.

How to apply

Interested in becoming part of this project? Complete the following steps to submit your expression of interest:

Step 1 - Check criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

For this project, the following experience is not mandatory, but would be highly regarded:

  • Field work
  • Computer programming or modelling
  • Greenhouse gas research

Step 2 - Submit enquiry to research team leader

Step 3 - Lodge application

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, you should be in a position to proceed to the next step of the UWA application process: Lodge an application. Different application procedures apply to domestic and international students.


Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

Indigenous students
Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.
Forrest Foundation scholarships
All international and Australian students who wish to study towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Western Australia may apply for Forrest Scholarships.

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