Shortgrass Steppe (No longer funded by NSF LTER)

Sunset behind one of the still active windmills on the shortgrass steppe that provide water for livestock (1990s). Photo by Paul Stapp

Overview: The Shortgrass Steppe (SGS) Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) project is no longer active, but was funded by the National Science Foundation from 1982-2014 as one of the first sites in the US LTER Network. This collaborative, interdisciplinary research project was founded in the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University by ecosystem scientists who developed novel approaches to the study of grassland ecosystems during the International Biome Program(IBP) (1968-1974).
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History: Our involvement in the LTER program (LTER I 1982-1986) began with spatially explicit ideas and questions about the importance of landscape structure, particularly the classic soil catena model, in the long-term development and maintenance of shortgrass steppe ecosystems. In the second phase of the project (LTER II 1987-1990) we expanded our concept of long-term processes to include the origin and persistence of spatial patterns at a range of spatial scales. This work included substantial questioning of the generality of the catena model at the CPER and in the shortgrass steppe region. Our work for LTER III (1996-2002) built upon LTER I and II and expanded the depth of our investigations into interactions between spatial and temporal patterns in ecosystem structure and function.
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Research Topics: Research topics have been arranged within a conceptual framework that asserts that the shortgrass steppe ecological structure and function are governed by climate, natural disturbance, physiography, human use and biotic interactions.
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