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K-State Today

October 18, 2016



Science on Tap: It's a Grassy World – Nature vs. Nurture on the Tallgrass Prairie

By Michael Tobler

Science on Tap features a brief, informal presentation by a K-State scientist followed by lively conversation. The goal is to build our community's enthusiasm for science in a fun and unique way. The free, interactive program begins 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19, at Tallgrass Tap House, 320 Poyntz Ave. Be sure to let the Tap House staff know you are there for Science on Tap.

Matt Galliart, a doctoral student in the Division of Biology at Kansas State University, will introduce you to Big Bluestem, the king of grasses and a dominant force of tallgrass prairies. Known for its seasonal color show, Big Bluestem also provides food and protection for wildlife. This key prairie species inhabits grasslands from Western Kansas to Illinois and studies prove the plant is highly adaptable to the local growing conditions.

Researchers are currently utilizing cross-planting sites throughout the Great Plains to understand if the old adage of "Nature or Nurture" is more important in controlling growth. Ultimately, information on Big Bluestem will be used to inform land managers on what regional variety is best suited for restoration and prairie conservation as climates change. For Kansas farmers, this research will be exceedingly helpful in sustaining the cattle industry and the range land they need to survive.

Science in Tap is offered as part of Sunset Zoo's Behind the Science initiative; an effort to build our community's enthusiasm for science in a fun and unique way. The program is organized in partnership with Tallgrass Tap House and K-State's Graduate School and Center for Engagement and Community Development. 

The next Science on Tap presentation will be Nov. 16. 

Note that each Science on Tap will feature different topics so community members will learn something new each time they attend.