Expansion of gallery forest on Konza Prairie Research Natural Area, Kansas

TitleExpansion of gallery forest on Konza Prairie Research Natural Area, Kansas
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1994
AuthorsKnight, CL, Briggs, JM, Nellis, MD
JournalLandscape Ecology
Pagination117 -125
Accession NumberKNZ00457
Keywordsburning, gallery forest, GIS, historical landuse, tallgrass prairie

To determine the dynamics of the spatial extent of gallery forest on Konza Prairie Research Natural Area (KPRNA), aerial photographs taken over a 46 year time frame were digitized into an ARC-INFO Geographic Information System (GIS). A Global Positioning System (GPS) was used to collect ground control points to co-register the photographs for each year. Gallery forest areas for the three major drainage boundaries (Kings Creek, Shane Creek, and White Pasture) were analyzed to assess the uniformity of change in the landscape system. Results indicated that the total gallery forest area on KPRNA has increased in area from 157 ha in 1939 to over 241 ha in 1985. During this time, there was an increase in the total number of patches and a decrease in the mean size of forest patches. However, the rate of increase was not consistent over this time period, nor was it uniform from one drainage basin or stream order to another. Detailed spatial analysis of the forested area with a geomorphology and digital elevation model of Konza Prairie showed that in 1985, 58% of the forest was on alluvial/colluvial soil, yet only 15% of that soil type was forested. In addition, over 70% of the forest was on the 0–15% slope interval, but only 15–20% of that slope interval was forested. These results may be attributed to a variety of factors such as changing management practices (i.e., frequency of fires and herbicide spraying) and the temporal constraints on extent to which the gallery forest can expand across the landscape.