News From The Sites: Konza LTER Program

Network News Spring 1987, Vol. 1 No. 1
Site News

Studies on the effects of burning, mowing, and fertilizer applications on belowground interactions were initiated in the spring of 1986 by an interdisciplinary group: David Gibson (primary productivity), Barbara Hetrick (mycorrhizae), Paul Schwab (soil chemistry), Tim Seastedt (arthropods, roots), and Tim Todd (nematodes). Eight plots, 25 by 50 m, were established in a split-split pilot design. Main plots were unburned/annual bum, and these were split into two strips for unmowed/mowed three times per year treatments. The unmowed/mowed subplots were further divided into four annual fertilizer treatments of 10 g nitrogen/hectare, 1 g phosphorus/hectare, 10 g nitrogen plus 10 phosphorus/hectare, and a control with no fertilizer addition.

The overall goal is to add a statistically robust belowground component at Konza research using a system approach for three core areas of LTER -- primary production, organic matter processing, and nutrient dynamics. Our interdisciplinary approach will allow observations of the interactions of imposed treatments while maximizing the use of time and resources. For example, burning is known to influence root growth and dynamics. To assess this, single root samples will be examined for primary production, level of mycorrhizal infection, impact of nematodes, arthropods in the rhizosphere, and nutrient dynamics in the roots.

Alan Napp (presently at the University of Wyoming) and Tim Seastedt recently examined the limiting effects of litter accumulation on primary productivity in the tallgrass prairie. Periodic fire is a natural component of prairies and alters the effect of litter accumulation (Bioscience 36:662-668).

In 1986, Don Kaufman became PI of Konza LTER.

Dick Marzolf returned from his sabbatical and initiated research on the presence, source, and role of carbohydrates in the water of prairie streams.

David Gibson began as the plant ecology research associate prior to the 1986 growing season.

Dave Hartnett, new plant ecologist in the Division of Biology, initiated plant population studies at Konza and will assume some responsibilities for vegetation research in LTER.

Also in 1986, the scope of studies in hydrology, beiowground processes, arid populations was widened by Barb Hetrick (Plant Pathology), Jim Koeiliker (Civil Engineering), Paul Schwab (Agronomy), Buck Sisson (Agronomy), and Tim Todd (Plant Pathology) joining our research efforts.