Leadership in LTER VI was provided by John Blair (PI), with Co-PI support from Tony Joern, David Hartnett, Walter Dodds, and Jesse Nippert. During LTER VI, the Konza LTER program continued to address fundamental ecological questions, but placed larger emphasis on understanding the consequences of global change for ecological dynamics in grasslands. Particular focus was placed on long-term responses to facets of global change most relevant to grasslands and grassland streams, including changes in land-use (fire and grazing regimes, grassland restoration), land-cover (particularly increases in woody plant cover), climate change and altered hydrology, and altered nutrient cycles (enhanced N deposition).
Specific goals of LTER VI included: (1) to continue our core long-term experiments focused on responses to land-use and climatic variability, with the addition of new treatments and response variables; (2) to expand studies of woody plant encroachment into grasslands, a critical land-cover change, to include new consumer and ecosystem responses and add new paleo-ecological perspectives; (3) to assess rates and trajectories of change during restoration of grasslands, an increasingly important land use; (4) to expand climate change studies; (5) to complement long-term studies of nutrient enrichment and interactions with land-use practices with new emphases on linking above- and belowground responses; (6) initiated new studies on the consequences of altered nutrient regimes for streams, and on linkages between terrestrial land-cover change and streams; and (7) to use KNZ data to support regional ecological studies and place our research in the context of regional socio-ecological systems. In LTER VI, we continued to use LTER data to promote formal integration and synthesis to advance ecological understanding of this and other ecosystems, to advance basic ecological knowledge and address issues of societal importance.
New KSU faculty scientists added in LTER VI included Jesse Nippert (Biology) as well as many faculty members in other departments at KSU (John Harrington, Geography; Stacey Hutchinson, Civil Engineering; Kendra McLauchlan, Geography; Kevin Price, Agronomy and Geography). In addition, new faculty were added from other institutions (Sara Baer and Matt Whiles, University of Southern Illinois; Melinda Smith, Yale University; Nate Brunsell and Gwen Macpherson; University of Kansas; Gail Wilson, Oklahoma State University).
For more detailed information, see our LTER VI proposal.