The Litchfield Savanna SuperSite represents high rainfall, frequently burnt, tropical savanna. At 1.9 million km2, tropical savanna is the dominant ecosystem type across northern Australia. Understanding biogeochemical cycles, impacts of fire on sequestration, vegetation and fauna is a national priority.
The site is a 5 km x 5 km block of relatively uniform open-forest savanna inside the park, and about 80 km south of Darwin. The infrastructure being put in place will help scientists understand the dynamics of vegetation structure and floristics (the kinds and numbers of plant species in an area, and their distribution and relationships) by linking field observations with infrastructure measuring fluxes (or exchanges) of carbon, water and energy. The fluxes will be linked to remotely sensed observations of vegetation cover and leaf area taken from the ground, aircraft and space.
- What are the impacts of prevailing fire regimes (primarily frequency, but also intensity, extent, heterogeneity) on vegetation structure and composition, habitat quality, fragmentation and vertebrate faunal biodiversity?
- How does vegetation structure, climate drivers and fire regime influence savanna carbon sequestration rate?
- How can fire management contribute to greenhouse gas abatement and carbon sequestration in savanna ecosystems?
- What are the impacts of climate change on fire regimes and subsequent feedbacks to savanna carbon and water cycles?