Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bison on Konza Prairie Fuel Experiments to Restore Prairie Ecosystem

30.11.2011
The presence of bison at Konza Prairie Biological Station may seem iconic, a tribute to America's past when such herds roamed the range.

But the bison at Konza serve an important purpose by furthering the efforts of numerous experiments being conducted on-site, according to Kansas State University's John Briggs, director of the tallgrass prairie preserve.

"For example, we have a large group of individuals from a variety of universities who are comparing how one native ungulate -- bison -- impacts the tallgrass prairie versus native ungulates in South Africa, where they have many species grazing, everything from elephants to the smaller antelopes," Briggs said.

The main objective in several of the Konza experiments is to learn about the tallgrass prairie ecosystem by using the grazing patterns of bison. The role of the bison, Briggs said, is similar to the various burning treatments conducted annually at Konza.

"We're using the bison much like a treatment, just like fire," he said. "They're part of our long-term experimental design. Although Konza is large, it's really not large enough to study natural herds of bison. It's not really a good place to study the behavior of animals."

One of the challenges of conducting research on bison is their constant potential for unpredictable behavior, Briggs said.

"They're not like cattle," he said. "They're very wild animals, so we have very strict protocol when people work with the bison. We never let people go in the bison area by themselves, and everyone is required to carry a radio with them. We haven't had any incidents with the bison, but they are unpredictable."

Much like a list of sports statistics, the biological history of Konza Prairie's bison herd is known inside and out.

With 30 bison introduced to the area in October 1987, the herd has grown to an average size of 294, mostly through natural reproduction. The heaviest bison in the herd weighed in at 2,050 pounds in 2006. Female bison in the herd can be up to 20 years old, while the males are only kept up to age 8.

Researchers also have found that the bison gain more weight in years with greater late-August precipitation but gain less weight in years with greater late-June and early-July precipitation. Bison also lose approximately 10 percent of their body mass over the winter -- except for the calves, which gain around 3 percent of their body mass.

Bison prefer to eat grasses, and their grazing increases the local plant diversity. They also prefer to graze in recently burned areas during the growing season but prefer unburned areas in the winter. Grazing by the bison increases the abundance of forb-feeding grasshoppers. It also increases the abundance of upland sandpipers and grasshopper sparrows on the prairie while lowering the number of Henslow's sparrows and dickcissels.

This level of factual data about the herd further drives academic traffic to Konza Prairie, Briggs said.

"We have a lot of information on this herd," he said. "We know the performance level, and that's what attracts researchers. They know when they come here that we have a lot of background information for them so they can set up their experiments easily."

These grazing experiments, in addition to the plethora of other experiments being conducted on Konza, could lead to the conservation and possible restoration of the tallgrass prairie, which is an endangered ecosystem, Briggs said.

"We're kind of spoiled here in Kansas because we have so many prairie lands around us," he said. "However, some conservation experts think the tallgrass prairie is one of the most endangered ecosystems in North America, and that grasslands and savannas worldwide are threatened, too.

"The problem with grasslands is that they're wonderful places to grow our agriculture crops. Much of the original extent of tallgrass prairie has been converted to croplands, so there's only this small, little remnant of tallgrass still left in Kansas. We really need to understand this ecosystem and its importance before it's lost, because once it is lost, it's gone forever."

John Briggs, 785-532-0140, jbriggs1@k-state.edu

John Briggs | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.k-state.edu

Further reports about: BISON Fuel cells Konza Restore body mass ecosystem experiments prairie tallgrass prairie

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>