Identifying Ecosystem Controls on Soil Biodiversity

Collaborative Research: Identifying Ecosystem Controls on Soil Biodiversity: A US-UK Project

Konza Prairie, May 1999
Current knowledge of the relationship between soil biodiversity and ecosystem functioning is primarily restricted to soil biotic functional groups, and this project aims to examine the relationship at the much finer taxonomic resolution of species. This means bringing together soil ecologists, ecosystem scientists, modellers and sytematists to work towards a common goal. The project will be undertaken in conjunction with a program in the UK, including regular joint meetings and a protocol workshop to ensure identical methods are used, and therefore datasets are directly comparable.
burn v unburn
Konza, May 1999. The watershed on the left of the firebreak has remained unburned for many years. The watershed on the right was burned within the last 2 weeks.

The US field research for this project will be carried out at the Konza Prairie Research Natural Area, near Manhattan, Kansas. This is the site of the Konza Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program. Manipulations to plots on an area of this tallgrass prairie have been carried out for the last 12 years, and these will provide the basis for our investigations. Soil samples will be taken and split between the investigators for an intensive analysis of soil organisms to the species level, plus analyses of soil chemical and physical characteristics. All species identified will be photographed and made available on a World Wide Web site that will be established. Data will be incorporated in to a simulation model which will allow us to compare the relative importance of plant species diverstiy, plant functional group and primary production on the community composition of the soil organisms.

Konza, May 1999. Bison are maintained on selected watersheds on the Konza Prairie Research Natural Area.

This research should enable us to determine the consequences of aboveground plant community shifts such as those resulting from global change and species invasions, the extent of functional redundancy, identification of keystone species involved in critical processes, and the consequences of biodiversity for ecosystem stability.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 98 06437. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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