Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Learning the lessons of the world’s oldest ecological experiment

10.05.2006


Ecologists are getting ready to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the world’s oldest ecological experiment. The Park Grass Experiment was set up at Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire in 1856 – three years before Darwin published Origin of Species – to answer crucial agricultural questions of the day but has since proved an invaluable resource for studying natural selection and biodiversity.



To mark the occasion, a major review of Park Grass is published today in the British Ecological Society’s Journal of Ecology, and on 22nd-24th May 2006 Rothamsted Research is hosting an international symposium exploring the unique value of long-term ecological research.

Park Grass was originally designed to test the effect of fertilisers and manures on hay yields. However, it soon became apparent that the treatments were also affecting the botanical make-up of the plots and the ecology of this 2.8 ha field has been studied ever since. In spring, the field is a colourful tapestry of flowers and grasses, some plots still having the wide range of plants that most meadows probably contained hundreds of years ago.


According to the authors of the paper, Professor Jonathan Silvertown of The Open University and colleagues from Rothamsted Research, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Lincoln University in New Zealand: "Park Grass illustrates how long-term experiments grow in value with time and how they may be used to investigate scientific questions that were inconceivable at their inception. This is as likely to be true of the future of Park Grass as it has proved to be of its past." Over its 150 year history, Park Grass has:

  • demonstrated that conventional field trials probably underestimate threats to plant biodiversity from long term changes, such as soil acidification,
  • shown how plant species richness, biomass and pH are related,
  • has demonstrated that competition between plants can make the effects of climatic variation on communities more extreme,
  • provided one of the first demonstrations of local evolutionary change under different selection pressures and
  • endowed us with an archive of soil and hay samples that have been used to track the history of atmospheric pollution, including nuclear fallout.

"Today, Park Grass has acquired new relevance for the study of fundamental ecological processes and for nature conservation. It has inspired new ecological theory and has helped ecologists to recognise the value of long-term experiments in ecological studies," the authors say.

Becky Allen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.blackwellpublishing.com

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

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: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object

23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria

23.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Medical gamma-ray camera is now palm-sized

23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>