Mercedes Ondik

Mercedes Ondik

PhD Student
Centre for Ecosystem Science
Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences

I am a PhD candidate at the University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia), and my main focus of study is how fire and agricultural land management impact soil health and function. I also have an interest in social sciences and value anecdotal evidence from citizens as a way to inform scientific studies and their aims. In my own time, I enjoy listening to and creating music and playing chess and volleyball.

Project: Impacts of Australia's 2019-2020 fire season on land and people: land management can affect post-fire outcomes on soil function

Supervised by: Dr. Mark Ooi and Dr. Miriam Muñoz-Rojas

Project Description: My project aims to 1) assess the impacts of fire and pre-fire land management practices on soil physicochemical and biological properties and 2) raise awareness of the impacts of the 2019-2020 fire season on land and people throughout New South Wales, Australia (NSW). After a megafire burned nearly 50% of Kangaroo Island, South Australia, I worked with land owners in Western River on Kangaroo Island to assess changes to soil properties on their land including both nonmanaged dry sclerophyll woodland and historically cleared and grazed pastures. Then, in collaboration with the NSW Nature Conservation Council and Rural Fire Service, I carried out surveys and interviews of landowners in NSW to better understand the fire season's impacts on soil, vegetation and perceptions and behaviors of people across the state. It is my hope that the outcomes of this research guide future fire management training efforts in NSW and future soil restoration across the fire-affected Mediterranean-type climatic regions of the world.

Contact Details

Ondik, M.M., Bennell, M., Davies, R.J., Ooi, M.K.J., Mu, M., 2022. Fire and land use impact soil properties in a Mediterranean dry sclerophyll woodland 324.

Ondik, M., Ooi, M., and Muñoz-Rojas, M.: Insights from landowners on Australia's Black Summer bushfires: impacts on soil and vegetation, perceptions, and behaviours, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-10776,, 2022.

Ondik, M., Muñoz-Rojas, M., and Ooi, M.: Land management influences the effects of fire on soil properties: implications for post-fire restoration efforts, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9353,, 2021