Field trips are an essential part of research for many environmental scientists. But what happens on tour, doesn’t always stay on tour. Dr John Tibby shares an inside look from his latest trip to Fraser Island.
Tibby and his team are looking to the past to understand just how bad droughts can get. His field trip companions, which include Dr Francesca McInerney, Dr Cameron Barr, Haidee Cadd and Dr Jon Marshall, Dr Glenn McGregor and Cameron Schulz are traipsing around Basin Lake to find clues.
They are on the hunt for leaves of the broad leaved paperbark tree (Melaleuca quinquenervia). Leaves of this tree that have been preserved in lake muds give an insight into the past. By analysing the carbon isotope ratio in the leaves, the past rainfall patterns can be inferred. The information gained from the leaves also sheds light on the broader ecosystem, notably, the bizarre presence of a rainforest on a sandy area like Fraser Island.
Watch the video to find out more about the science and what field trip life is like: