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SGS-LTER 2010 proposal




Kelly, Eugene F., author
Kaplan, Nicole E., author
Derner, Justin D., author
Antolin, Michael F., author
Moore, John C., author

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The Shortgrass Steppe Long-term Ecological Research (SGS-LTER) program focuses on how grassland ecosystems function and persist or change in the face of global change. Our conceptual framework asserts that climate, physiography, grazing, fire and landuse, operating over different spatial and temporal scales, are the dominant determinants of the structure, function, and persistence of the SGS. Using the shortgrass steppe (SGS) ecosystem of the North American Great Plains as a model, we seek to (1) identify the ecological attributes of grasslands that historically have resulted in their persistence and (2) understand these attributes in ways that will allow us to identify area of vulnerability and better forecast the future of grasslands in the face of global change. Given its geographic extent and history, the SGS encapsulates many of the features of a system driven by social-ecological interactions and the vulnerabilities of semiarid grasslands to global change. Our overarching question is: How will structure and function of the SGS respond to expected changes in climate, management, and land-use, and what will be the consequences?


The SGS-LTER research site was established in 1980 by researchers at Colorado State University as part of a network of long-term research sites within the US LTER Network, supported by the National Science Foundation. Scientists within the Natural Resource Ecology Lab, Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, and Biology Department at CSU, California State Fullerton, USDA Agricultural Research Service, University of Northern Colorado, and the University of Wyoming, among others, have contributed to our understanding of the structure and functions of the shortgrass steppe and other diverse ecosystems across the network while maintaining a common mission and sharing expertise, data and infrastructure.

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grassland ecology
Central Plains Experimental Range
shortgrass steppe
Pawnee National Grassland
long term ecological research


Associated Publications