The oldest ecological experiment in the world, set up almost 150 years ago to see whether inorganic fertilisers could produce more grass than traditional animal manures, is becoming an important source of evidence on the impact of climate change on genetic variation in plants.
Speaking at the British Ecological Society’s Annual Meeting, being held at Manchester Metropolitan University on 9-11 September 2003, Professor Jonathan Silvertown of the Open University will explain what the Park Grass Experiment has taught ecologists over the past century and how this uniquely long dataset has shed new light on many ecological problems, including the link between the genetics and population dynamics of species.
Set up in 1856, three years before Charles Darwin published his Origin of Species, the Park Grass Experiment is a hay meadow at Rothamsted Research to which a series of different fertiliser treatments have been applied annually. As well as measuring the yield of hay from each plot, ecologists have also measured the change in species composition in the meadow, and kept samples of the hay cut from it over the years.
Becky Allen | alfa
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