Central Plains Experimental Range

Network News Fall 1989, Vol. 6 No. 1
Site News

In July, the Central Plains Experimental Range celebrated its 50th anniversary with a weekend of field programs for both professional ecologists and the general public. Speakers included officials from the Agricultural Research Service and Colorado State University.

Congressman Hank Brown spoke at lunch on the field day for the general public.

Research at the Central Plains Experimental Range was begun in 1939 by the U.S. Forest Service. Most of the exclosures and several of the ongoing experiments were initiated at that time. In 1953 administration and research at Central Plains was taken over by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), which along with faculty at Colorado State University has since conducted most of the research. The Central Plains Experimental Range was a U.S. International Biological Program (IBP) site from 1969-1974 and became an LTER project in 1982.

Current activity under LTER includes the initiation of a landscape-level 15N experiment, the completion of the first phase of a regional modeling project, and the initiation of an intersite simulation modeling project.

Landscape-Level Experiment

The initiation of a landscape-level N experiment to investigate interactions among grazing, landscape position, soil organic matter and nitrogen was completed during the summer of 1989. The plots, located on replicated uplands and swales in a 50-year heavily grazed pasture and a 50-year exclosure, were located in 1988 and sampled to determine initial conditions. Applications of 5N were begun in the fall of 1988 and completed in 1989. This experiment is planned to run for 20 years.

Regional Modeling Project Under the direction of Italy Burke, phase 1 of a regional modeling project has been completed under LTER supplemental funding. This first phase involved constructing a GIS database of driving variables for the northeastern quarter of Colorado, running a simulation model for classes of driving variable polygons, and constructing a complementary database of model output for the region. The results of this work are in press with the journal Landscape Ecology.

Intersite Modeling Project

An intersite modeling project has been begun as a result of a supplement to a NSF grant awarded to Bill Lauenroth at Colorado State University and to Hank Shugart at the University of Virginia. The objective of this work is to utilize a single modeling paradigm and a similar model structure to compare ecosystems. Comparisons will be made among three grassland sites. Central Plains, Konza, and Niwot; and among three forested sites. Hi. Andrews, Coweeta, and Hubbard Brook.

In addition to the principal investigators, participants include Debra Coffin, Tom Kirchner, and Bill Parton at Colorado State University and Torn Smith, Dean Urban, and George Homberger at the University of Virginia.

For additional information contact Bill Lauenroth, Range Science Department, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.