Dr Samantha Travers
Adjunct Associate Lecturer
Contact details:

Room G14
Samuels Building (F25)
UNSW, Kensington 2052

Sam travers

Member of the Arid Ecology Lab


Travers SK, Eldridge DJ (2013) Increased rainfall frequency triggers an increase in litter fall rates of reproductive structures in an arid eucalypt woodland. Austral Ecology 38, 820-830.

Travers SK, Eldridge DJ (2012) Landscape modulators and resource accumulation in a post-fire eucalypt woodland. Forest Ecology and Management 285, 11-19.

Travers, S.K., Eldridge, D. J., Koen, T. B., Soliveres, S. (2012) Animal foraging pit soil enhances the performance of a native grass under stressful conditions. Plant and Soil.352 (1): 341-351



BIOS3161 Life in Arid Lands

GEOS1701 Environmental Systems and Processes


PhD Details

Aspects of leaf litter dynamics in a semi-arid mallee woodland

I am looking at factors that influence leaf litter (and associated nutrient) distribution and decomposition in semi-arid Australia. My study aims to characterise functions and processes involved in litter dynamics with a particular focus in the Mallee Dune fields of Eastern Australia (Western New South Wales region). My studies cover fundamental litter dynamics including litter fall rates; surface litter distribution and movement; litter decomposition; and potential effects of nutrient transfer on plant growth, in response to various events and ecosystem processes.

The dynamics of nutrient-rich organic matter is critically important in many ecosystems, particularly those that are resource-limited, such as the arid and semi-arid regions of Australia. Decomposition of organic matter is an important component of the biogeochemical cycle as it controls soil nutrient availability which consequentially affects ecosystem productivity and vegetation composition.

My study site is at the Scotia Sanctuary in western NSW and adjacent grazing properties. Parts of this project are in collaboration with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

I am focusing on several factors that influence litter dynamics. In particular my study will consider:

  • Spatial and temporal variation in litter fall across two dominant vegetation communities.
  • The effects of vegetation and geomorphic variation on litter distribution
  • The relative effects of termites, microbes and fungi in the decomposition process using a comprehensive litter-bag study.
  • Litter decomposition rates of native plant species in the foraging pits of native vs. exotic animals.
  • The effects of fire on the spatial distribution of surface litter. 

Supervisor: Professor David Eldridge


See also http://www.aridecologylab.com.au/samantha-travers/