Long-term Ecological Research
Long-Term Ecological Research or LTER network is the longest-lived and largest ecological network in the U.S. This network provides the research platforms, scientific expertise, and lasting datasets that are essential for analyzing and documenting environmental change. The network fuses a multi-disciplinary group of over two thousand graduate students and scientists. The twenty six LTER sites cover diverse ecosystems in the Pacific and Caribbean, which include deserts, lakes, estuaries, oceans, prairies, coral reefs, alpine and Arctic tundra, forests, urban regions, and manufacture of agriculture. In this essay, we will discuss the hypothesis and results of one of the LTER programs, which is the Konza Prairie LTER. We will also discuss the environmental threats to this LTER project.
LTER network’s vision is a community in which long-term ecological information contributes to the development of productivity, health, and welfare of the worldwide environment by progressing well-being of humans. Research at LTER networks provide database, experiments, and research programs to be used by other scientists.
The Konza Prairie LTER project is an interdisciplinary, comprehensive research project designed to present an understanding of ecological methods in mesic grasslands, specifically tall-grass prairie, and share theoretical and conceptual progress in the field of ecology. The main site for the Konza Prairie LTER project is the Konza Prairie Biological Station or KPBS (lternet.edu).
Bridging the divide
Bridging the divide is a research project of Konza Prairie LTER, and the primary goal is connecting genomics to ecosystem reactions to climatic change. This project exhibit that genomic information can be gathered from plants under field conditions and directly connected to plant physiological reactions basically in the impact of climatic change on ecosystem functioning and structure.
Bridging the divide research project correlates to the bluestem-grama prairie that is a vegetation type of prairie. The big bluestem prairie grass has always upregulated genes that are controlling two features of photosynthesis, which are carbon metabolism and photochemistry. These features are essential to the functioning of ecosystem.
This research project connects two divergent regulations in biology, which are ecology and molecular biology. This combination of regulations is expected to provide early signals of biological change caused by altered rainfall and warming, which can be used in ecosystem models to generate forecasts for the community to consider when evaluating mitigation policies of climatic change. This research project takes advantage of a present climatic exchange experiment together with tallgrass prairie that is located in the Flint Hills region of Kansas named as the Rainfall Manipulation Plots or RaMPs (Smith, 2004).
Bud bank demography
Bud bank demography is a research project of Konza Prairie LTER that encompasses a new approach to evaluation of rangeland health and response to change in the environment. Since most ecosystems of rangelands are influenced by reproducing of vegetables in perennial grass, population of the ground below of vegetable buds or also called the bud bank, instead of seed bank, is essential for regulating their dynamics in vegetation, resilience to stress, productivity, and reactions to environmental change. This research project is proposed to provide a better analytical understanding of reactions of rangelands to environmental changes globally and their consequences.
Bud bank research project analyzes hypotheses on environmental factors controlling bud bank dynamics and their consequences ecologically in rangelands through the Great Plains. The impact of bud banks on the stability of grass population will be analyzed by connecting bud bank solidities to population model restrictions caused by long-term population information available at the Konza prairie LTER site.
Results of this research project provided new data on the function of the bud bank in the changes of populations of perennial grass in rangelands, and in the infringement of woody plant types in grasslands. The results of this project also verified that the preservation of a reserve inactive bud bank is a main trait explaining the flexibility of perennial grass types and their ability from recurred grazing or periodic deficiency (reeis.usda.gov).
Fire is one of the environmental threats in Konza Prairie LTER site because it modifies the soil and light environment of emerging plants that change physiological and phenology reactions. This change may result to decline and contamination in biodiversity. There were experiments conducted to manage this threat such as fire treatment reversal.
Grazing is another environmental threat in Konza Prairie LTER site that is similar to fire. Traditionally, grazing is essential in tallgrass prairie, but it now depends on humans to control by cattle, which is the main land use in the Flint Hills. Grazing interactions were introduced to Konza that includes reproduce watersheds that burned in the longest time at a 20-year interval, and a range of vegetation types and topography.
These environmental threats differ from other ecosystems such as grasslands in the effects, which is the driver of grassland functioning and composition. These functional differences are being evaluated by long-term comparisons of cattle grazing and fire treatment at both the watershed and the grasslands (ksu.edu).
The tallgrass prairie is the plant species that is involved in the Konza ecosystem. The experiment of the RaMPs requires two environmental changes related to energy production, which are increased temperature and more unpredictable precipitation rules described as increased time among, and intensity of events of rainfall. The research project focuses on the two most sufficient C4 grass in the ecosystem of tallgrass prairie, which are known from previous research to react differently to changed rainfall and to greatly influence society and ecosystem methods. Both are connected to maize or also called Zea mays, in which genomic tools were, developed (Smith, 2004).
Several current parts of interest include results of fire, grassland ecology, climatic variability and grazing as necessary and interactive aspects affecting the function and structure of mesic grassland ecosystems, controls and patterns of productivity, interactions of plant-herbivore, soil ecology, temporal and spatial dynamics of animal and plant communities and populations, landscape ecology, grassland reactions to climate change and climatic variability (lternet.edu).
Fire is essential in the ecological grasslands because it limits the increase of woody plants and promotes the coat and production of C4 grass. The studies of environmental consequences of fire led to this understanding of ecological study (ksu.edu).
The experimental results of the Konza prairie LTER site can be applied to continuously manage other ecosystems such as grassland management by applying the regulation changes suitable for the expansion of grasslands. These results can also help in controlling the environmental threats that greatly affects the ecosystems and the Konza prairie site as well. Since some of those environmental threats are now controllable by humans, they must understand how to correctly control and manage these threats. It would be even better if people would be able to divert these threats into necessities.
Konza Prairie LTER. (n.d.). Konza Prairie Long-term Ecological Research (LTER). Retrieved from http://www.konza.ksu.edu/knz/pages/research/knzcore.aspx
Smith, M. (2004). DOE Program for Ecosystem Research. Retrieved from http://per.ornl.gov/SmithM.html
United States Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Bud bank demography: a new approach to assessment of rangeland health and response to environmental change. - KANSAS STATE UNIV. Retrieved from http://www.reeis.usda.gov/web/crisprojectpages/0212314-bud-bank-demography-a-new-approach-to-assessment-of-rangeland-health-and-response-to-environmental-change.html