NERP Researcher’s photography internationally recognised - Dan Metcalfe

NERP Researcher’s photography internationally recognised - Dan Metcalfe

Dr Dan Metcalfe has been named Runner-up in the 'Ecosystems and Communities' category in the 2013 British Ecological Society (BES) Photographic Competition. Dr Metcalfe (Project 7.1 Fire and Rainforests) is Research Program Leader for Ecology in CSIRO’s Ecosystem Sciences Division, based in Brisbane.

The photo was taken at Halloran’s Hill, Atherton, Far North Queensland and shows a fallen pink bloodwood (Corymbia intermedia) and blady grass (Imperata cylindrica) re-sprout, reinvigorated, two weeks after a dry season forest fire cleared the system of the wet season’s accumulation of vines, litter and cyclone debris.

Halloran’s Hill is an extinct volcano on the western fringe of the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area.  Fire is a natural part of the dynamics of much of the Australian continent, but rainforest or vine thicket can survive in areas of the tropics where communities are protected from regular fire. The crater of Halloran’s Hill is one such protected area, the rocky rim helping to slow the progress of fire, and the crater keeping the local environment cooler and more humid than the surroundings. This community, named Mabi forest, after the Indigenous name for the Lumholtz Tree-kangaroo which thrives there, is listed as critically endangered with only 4% of its former extent remaining.  Fire is perceived as a threatening process and actively excluded, but Traditional Owners of the area recognise fire as a tool for landscape management, and evidence from pollen and charcoal records demonstrates the resilience of rainforest in the landscape in the presence of infrequent fire. The image was captured about 100 m from the rainforest/woodland boundary, effectively part of the ecotone, and Dr Metcalfe was walking through the fire scar, looking to see what impact the fire had made on any rainforest plants that had recruited under the eucalypt canopy, and whether any rainforest seedlings were recruiting along with the native grasses.

The announcement was made at INTECOL, the International Congress of Ecology, the World’s largest ecology meeting; running in London from the 18th to the 23rd of August and hosted by BES.

Click here to see a full-sized version of Dan's picture.

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Project: 7.1 Fire and rainforests

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