Canon Australia have announced that Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster (C3) PhD candidate Stephen Fujiwara is the recipient of the 2011 Canon Australia Environmental Grant Award – Youth category. Stephen will receive $5000 worth of Canon product to support the completion of his PhD project within the C3 Terrestrial Ecohydrology Research Group (TERG).
In Australia groundwater is vital for the survival of both natural and agricultural ecosystems. Stephen is studying the link between groundwater availability and plant ecology and the Canon equipment will be used to investigate the use of simpler techniques for determining tree age and tree growth rates.
“For many years scientists have been counting the age of trees with highly technical scientific equipment. If this can be simplified by taking digital photos and using scanners to analyse tree rings the process will be faster and cheaper, allowing regional land-managers to deploy the method, and better document their findings,” Stephen said.
Stephen will photograph tree rings from Australian native and plantation species, to determine which species might be suitable ‘indicators’ of forest water requirements. These images will be compared digitally with meterological and groundwater measurements for insight into the way Australian ecosystems grow, or cease growth, in response to climatic events.
“While we have a good understanding of what happens to a leaf as it dries in the lab, research is needed to better quantify and predict growth rates in the bush. Most field studies undertaken have been in northern hemisphere forests, and are not of much relevance to the unique Australian landscapes. Tree rings store information on the growth rates of trees back in time, and are an under utilised resource in Australia, which may be able to provide insight into the bush responds to rains, drought and groundwater pumping.”
“I’m hoping we can learn a great deal with the Canon equipment and I’d like to thank Canon Australia for supporting environmental research in this way," Stephen said.
Each year Canon Australia awards five grants to projects and organisations that support environmental protection.
Stephen’s project is supervised by Stephen’s project is supervised by Professor Derek Eamus, Dr James Cleverly (UTS) and Dr Anthony O’Grady (CSIRO).