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      Biosphere Reserve Information

United States of America


Photo: Konza Prairie
  General Description   Konza Prairie is located in the Flint Hills region of northeastern Kansas, approximately 10 km south of the city of Manhattan. The Flint Hills are steep-sloped and overlain by shallow limestone soils unsuitable for cultivation. This region contains the largest remaining area of tallgrass prairie in North America since the majority of the Konza Prairie and the surrounding landscape have not been plowed.
The vegetation of Konza Prairie is dominated by native tallgrass which can reach over 2.5 meters in height in the most productive years. The prairie is dominated by plants adapted to the continental climate, mainly perennial grasses such as big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), little bluestem (Andropogon scoparius), Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). The grassland habitats include upland prairie on thin loess soils, hill prairie along alternating limestone benches and slopes, and areas of lowland prairie on deep alluvial-colluvial soils.
Ecological research is the central activity of the Konza Prairie which is also a Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site of the National Science Foundation. The site was established to provide a natural laboratory for the study of ecological patterns and processes in native tallgrass prairie ecosystems. Key natural processes that regulate and sustain the tallgrass prairie are periodic fire, ungulate grazing, and a variable continental climate. Thus, these processes are the focus of much of the long-term research. Other research by the Kansas State University includes physiological ecology, population and community ecology of plants, insects, birds and mammals, aquatic ecology, ecosystem and landscape ecology, and grasslands restoration ecology.
The Konza Prairie Biological Station provides educational opportunities for students from elementary school to post-graduate level.
  Major ecosystem type   Temperate grassland
  Major habitats & land cover types   Tallgrass prairie; gallery forest; prairie streams
  Location   3903' to 3908'N; 9631' to 9637'W
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   3,487
  Core area(s)  
  Buffer zone(s)  
  Transition area(s) when given  
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   +320 to +444
  Year designated   1978
  Administrative authorities   Konza Prairie Biological Station; Kansas State University Division of Biology
  Brief description   Grassland ecology
Role of fire, grazing and climate in grasslands
Global change ecology
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   Climate, global change.
  Biodiversity   Ecology, fires/fire ecology, temperate grassland.
  Socio-economic   Livestock and related impacts/Overgrazing.
  Integrated monitoring   n.a.
  Contact address   David Hartnett
Kansas State University - Division of Biology
Ackert Hall
66506 Manhattan, Kansas
United States of America
  Telephone   (1.785) 587 0441
  Fax   (1.785) 532 6653
  Web site

Last updated: 02/08/2002

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