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Grassland stream ecology

Grasslands and wooded grasslands cover around 40% of the Earth’s terrestrial surface and more than ¼ of global runoff originates from these systems. Yet, surprisingly little is known about the ecology and unique properties of streams that link grasslands to downstream habitats. Understanding the ecology and ecosystem services provided by small headwater streams in the Great Plains region is especially important because those streams represent a critical interface between terrestrial habitats and downstream areas, and processes occurring in these streams affect downstream water quality.

Dodds WK, Gido K, Whiles MR, Fritz KM, Matthews WJ. 2004. Life on the edge: The ecology of Great Plains prairie streams. Bioscience 54:205-216.
Dodds WK, Oakes RM. 2008. Headwater influences on downstream water quality. Environmental Management 41:367-377.
Larson, DM, Dodds, WK, Jackson, KE, Whiles MR, Winders KR (in press) Ecosystem characteristics of remnant, headwater tallgrass prairie streams. Journal of Environmental Quality
Mulholland PJ, et al. 2008. Stream denitrification across biomes and its response to anthropogenic nitrate loading. Nature 452:202-U246.
Dr. Walter Dodds
Grassland stream research: Konza Prairie LTER research includes numerous studies on the ecology of grassland streams. Kings Creek is a part of the USGS Hydrologic Benchmark Network, and is one of the most intensively studies grassland streams on Earth. Four branches of Kings Creek have been instrumented with gauging stations (as shown here) that are used to monitor stream hydrology and nutrient export. 5/2006.
Walter Dodds



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