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K-State Today

April 21, 2011

Global resource: Konza Prairie research focus of international symposium; Early registration ends July 15

Submitted by Julie Fosberg

An international symposium on grasslands is coming to one of the world's key tallgrass prairie research areas: Kansas State University's Konza Prairie Biological Station.

K-State will be host to Grasslands in a Global Context, Sept. 12-14. The symposium is in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the Konza Prairie Biological Station and the 30th anniversary of the associated Konza Prairie Long-Term Ecological Research program.

The symposium is open to the public and is for people with an interest in Konza, as well as for academic audiences. Early registration ends July 15 and can be done online at http://www.dce.k-state.edu/conf/grassland/registration.

"As a proper theme to celebrate the anniversary of Konza Prairie and the Long-Term Ecological Research Project at Konza Prairie, we chose to compare and contrast key research results from Kansas with similar studies conducted worldwide," said Anthony Joern, university distinguished professor of biology and co-director of the Institute for Grassland Studies at K-State. "This provides an opportunity to search for generality in our understanding of grassland structure and function, and develop a new synthesis of grassland ecology as an outcome of the symposium."

Speakers are coming to K-State from across the country and around the world, including China, the Netherlands, Australia and South Africa. Osvaldo Sala, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Brown University and an international leader in ecological science and global environmental policy, will be the keynote speaker.

"Dr. Sala is a highly regarded grassland ecologist with extensive international research experience in grassland studies, especially in North America and his native Argentina," said Joern. "He takes a very broad, global view to uncover key processes and their underlying mechanisms. He is also a very dynamic speaker and has the perspective to provide a global picture of grassland ecology against which we can compare patterns and processes resulting from research at Konza Prairie."

Joern said that other speakers in the symposium are world class, represent experience from all of the continents, and have research that complements ongoing research at Konza Prairie.

The Konza Prairie Biological Station was established in 1971, and the Konza Long-Term Ecological Research program formally began in 1981 with support from the National Science Foundation. Konza has grown into a first-rate grassland ecological research facility and program. Research at Konza has shifted over its 30 years from a more regional long-term perspective to one of global use and scientific implications, according to Joern.

The Institute for Grassland Studies, a Targeted Excellence Program of K-State and host of the seminar, was established in 2008.

"The IGS was established to promote increased international collaborations between K-State grassland scientists with those in other continents. The topic of the symposium is a natural one for our goal, and it also provides a platform to highlight the excellent research performed at Konza Prairie over the last 40 years that has had an influence in international circles," Joern said.

For more information on the Grasslands in a Global Context seminar, go to http://www.dce.k-state.edu/conf/grassland.