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K-State Today

November 17, 2014



Konza Prairie named core field station site in 30-year NSF project

By Communications and Marketing

The Konza Prairie Biological Station will be a partner in a National Science Foundation research initiative that involves Kansas State University and the University of Kansas.

Konza Prairie and the University of Kansas Field Station have been named among the 106 sites that are part of the NSF-funded National Ecological Observatory Network, or NEON. The network will gather data to better understand the causes and consequences of climate change, land use change and invasive species. The project officially will begin in 2017 and take place over a 30-year period at monitoring sites across the U.S., from Alaska to Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

The two Kansas sites are the only NEON sites in the multistate eco-climatic region designated by the project as the Prairie Peninsula. Konza Prairie is the core site in the Prairie Peninsula and also will host aquatic monitoring and experimental sites.

"NEON will provide state-of-the-art instrumentation for measuring ecological processes and environmental change, and will complement more than 30 years of experiments and measurements being done at Konza as part of the NSF-funded Long-Term Ecological Research, or LTER, program," said John Blair, university distinguished professor of biology and principal investigator of the Konza Prairie LTER program. "The co-location of NEON infrastructure and the Konza LTER program also will provide unique research and training opportunities for students and scientists at institutions throughout Kansas and beyond."

Other NEON sites throughout the country include the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and Harvard Forest. Each NEON site includes a variety of environmental sensors on a tower and in the soil. Seasonal field crews will collect samples at the sites, including small mammals, beetles and mosquitoes, plants and soil. In addition, an airborne remote sensing platform will fly over sites annually to collect aerial data.

The 8,600-acre Konza Prairie is jointly owned by The Nature Conservancy and Kansas State University and managed by the Division of Biology. The University of Kansas Field Station includes 1,800 contiguous acres north of Lawrence. This area is held by the Kansas University Endowment Association and managed by the Kansas Biological Survey at the University of Kansas.

All NEON data and information products will be openly available in near real-time to scientists, educators, students and the public. NEON also will provide educational resources and citizen science programs.