Understanding and Forecasting Ecological Change: Causes, Trajectories and Consequences of Environmental Change in the Central Plains
Project Award Date: 04-01-2006
The project focuses on three interrelated aspects of ecological change, and associated responses in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems: (1) climatic variation, change and feedbacks between natural and human systems, including land use; (2) changes in biodiversity (from genes through landscapes, including invasive species); and (3) changes in ecosystem function (biogeochemistry and productivity).
The Central Plains grasslands are essential to our nation's agricultural economy. Their myriad "ecosystem services" provide clean water, recycle essential nutrients and preserve biodiversity. Kansas grasslands are ecologically complex and an ideal laboratory for assessing and forecasting changes in biodiversity and ecological systems. Biological diversity and ecological processes vary locally and regionally with climate, soils, topography, natural disturbances and land management, which, in turn, are affected by a strong east-west precipitation gradient across the Kansas River basin. Finally, by deploying study sites along wildlands to urban gradients, we will enable integrated assessment of the human dimensions of environmental change, namely, the interactions and reciprocal impacts of socio-economic, biological, and physical factors.
Our initiative will incorporate sensing technologies, informatics, telecommunications and large- scale modeling to enable acquisition, dissemination and analysis of data in a research and infrastructure collaboratory. The broader impacts encompass establishment of an interdisciplinary center for ecological forecasting to coordinate and synthesize infrastructural, research and educational efforts. We will develop novel educational and outreach activities at all levels across Kansas. This initiative will position Kansas researchers to participate fully in several NSF high-priority environmental initiatives. This project is also integral to the $500M investment of the state in the Kansas Bioscience initiative in that enhanced biological and ecological forecasting will be critical to areas of food safety and production (soil health; invasive pests), vector-borne diseases, and environmental risk analysis.
In collaboration with KU Biodiversity Institute
Faculty Investigator(s): Victor Frost (PI), Erik Perrins
Student Investigator(s): Afzal Syed, Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan, Balachandra Kumaraswamy, Sayak Bose, Kanagaraj Porur Damodaran, Chowdhury Shahriar
Primary Sponsor(s): NSF/KTEC