The Konza Prairie Biological Station (KPBS) is 3,487 ha of native tallgrass prairie and has been a Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site since 1982. It is located in the north eastern region of the Flint Hills ~10 km south of Manhattan, Kansas. KPBS is divided into more than 60 different watersheds that incorporate various fire regimes and presence or absence of large native or domesticated ungulate grazers.
Decline of tallgrass prairies and woody encroachment:
Prairie streams are some of the most endangered habitats in North America. This is because less than 5% of the original tallgrass prairie remains, and most of the remaining patches are too small to encompass functional watersheds. One of many issues effecting tallgrass prairie streams is woody encroachment. This is a result of years of fire suppression and decreased grazing in which both are necessary to maintain a prairie ecosystem. The effects of these changes on stream ecosystem structure and function are poorly understood, but resources presumably shift from primarily autochthonous sources to relatively more allochthonous inputs with increasing canopy cover, which may ultimately alter consumer communities.
Macroinvertebrate responses to removal of riparian woody vegetation along tallgrass prairie streams
collected from two naturally open canopy, two closed canopy downstream, and two closed canopy upstream reaches monthly before and after the removal to compare and examine macroinvertebrate and food web responses. Riparian forest removal altered macroinvertebrate production and functional structure, but higher production in removal reaches than in open reaches after manipulation suggested that natural conditions were not restored 1 y after removal. These results will provide quantitative information that will contribute to our understanding of prairie stream ecological responses to restoration of tallgrass prairie ecosystems, and may improve restoration techniques and tallgrass prairie management. This project was done in collaboration with Kansas State University.
See Jodi’s publication for more information: Vanderymyde, J. M. and M. R. Whiles. 2015. Effects of experimental forest removal on macroinvertebrate production and functional structure in tallgrass prairie streams. Freshwater Science 34:519-534. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/680442