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 Waste in the water – New purification techniques for healthier aquatic ecosystems
24.07.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

nachricht Plenty of habitat for bears in Europe
24.07.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

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: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum bugs, meet your new swatter

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

A novel synthetic antibody enables conditional “protein knockdown” in vertebrates

20.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Metamolds: Molding a mold

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>