Claudia Schimmer (PhD Candidate)

Claudia holds two undergrad degrees i.e., BSc (microbiology and physiology) and BSc (geology and zoology) minoring in soil science. With the primary focus on soil/substrate quality and mine rehabilitation, she obtained her B.Sc. Hons in environmental sciences majoring in soil science. Her honours focused on the capabilities of earthworms to initiate soil structure formation in anthropogenic mine waste residues. Because of her interest in mine rehabilitation and soil quality, she ventured further into the discipline and obtained her master’s degree. Her masters mainly focused on the application of microbial community properties as assessment/monitoring criteria for substrates affected by anthropogenic activities. The research also involved the succession and dynamics of developing microbial communities in anthropogenic substrates.

The spontaneous colonisation of soil rhizospheric’ microorganisms on un-reclaimed coal discard sites represents a model situation of de novo ecosystem development. This provides the opportunity to study the structure of natural established vegetation and their relationship with rhizospheric’ microorganisms on coal mine heaps. The main objective of this research is to test whether any linkage exists between the dominant plant species and soil microbial communities on coal mine spoil heaps and coal discard dumps. By determining whether edaphic factors or dominant vegetation drives microbial diversity and their relative strength across sites. The following questions will be addressed: (i) are there any consistent effects of the aboveground plant diversity on a range of soil microbial parameters? (ii) what effect does plant diversity have on the microbial community structure? (iii) is the catabolic capability of the soil microbial community beneath natural vegetation greater than that of artificial vegetation? (iv) can rehabilitation design system for the bio-fertilizer application be created based on the biotic and abiotic difference?