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Maintaining the native prairie lands of the Northern Great Plains (NGP), which provide an important habitat for declining grassland species, requires anticipating the effects of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and climate change on the region’s vegetation. Specifically, climate change threatens NGP grasslands by increasing the potential encroachment of native woody species into areas where they were previously only present in minor numbers. This project used a dynamic vegetation model to simulate vegetation type (grassland, shrubland, woodland, and forest) for the NGP for a range of projected future climates and relevant management scenarios. Comparing results of these simulations illustrates...
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Human-driven climate change presents natural resource managers with great uncertainties. Planning and executing effective management in the face of these uncertainties requires approaches nimble enough to address a broad range of interacting factors yet scientifically rigorous enough to support decisions and actions when faced with public scrutiny. Complex interactions among management practices and climate further stymie managers trying to plan for the future. Wind Cave National Park epitomizes this complexity hydrologically with its karst geology, sinking streams, and cave lakes, and ecologically with its prairie-forest ecotonal vegetation, large ungulate herds, and prescribed and wild fires. This project partnered...
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Maintaining the native prairie lands of the Northern Great Plains (NGP), which provide an important habitat for declining grassland species, requires anticipating the effects of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and climate change on the region’s vegetation. Specifically, climate change threatens NGP grasslands by increasing the potential encroachment of native woody species into areas where they were previously only present in minor numbers. This project uses a dynamic vegetation model to simulate vegetation type (grassland, shrubland, woodland, and forest) for the NGP for a range of projected future climates and relevant management scenarios. Comparing results of these simulations will...
Categories: Project
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Fire played an important role in shaping ponderosa pine forests of South Dakota’s Black Hills. Consequently, prescribed fire is an important management tool in restoring and maintaining the structure of these forests after nearly a century of fire suppression. Invasive plant species like Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) and common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) are sometimes associated with post-fire landscapes, however, so this project sought to determine strategies to reduce the chances of post-fire invasive species outbreaks. Partnering with the National Park Service’s Northern Great Plains Fire Management Office, this project tracked target invasive plants immediately before to two years after prescribed fires...
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Studies from around the world have shown shifts in plant community composition, reduced plant diversity and increased abundance of invasive species in response to nitrogen addition. These results may indicate that increasing atmospheric nitrogen deposition caused by fossil fuel combustion and agricultural activities will adversely affect northern Great Plains ecosystems. However, nitrogen addition studies that have been completed in the northern Great Plains used nitrogen addition levels far above that expected from atmospheric deposition. This project partnered with Colorado State University to experimentally investigate the effects of realistic nitrogen deposition on a wide variety of plant and soil parameters...
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Two exotic annual brome grasses ( Bromus tectorum and B. japonicus) have been a part of the northern Great Plains (NGP) landscape for more than a century, but their invasion in this region has accelerated since 1950. Despite their abundance and negative impact on native grasslands, management efforts to control annual bromes in NGP National Park Service units have been minimal. Spring and fall prescribed fires are used in NGP parks to manage fuel loads, control other non-native species, and maintain a vital ecosystem process, but serious concerns about their use in areas with annual brome grasses have arisen as new data have revealed the degree of invasion by these species in some NGP parks. NGP managers and...
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In this project researchers are assessing the links between climate, groundwater storage, spring flow, and ecosystem response in two contrasting major U.S. karst systems: the Edwards and Madison aquifers. Karst aquifers are uniquely suited for investigating effects of climate variability at timescales of human interest because they are highly dynamic; further, many provide habitat for rare and endangered species. The principal objective of this project is to determine how interrelations between karst hydrology and ecosystems will be affected by climate change. Current relations between recharge (impulse) and storage and spring flow (response) are quantified through signal-processing models that use existing...
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Climate change is expressed in both regional climatic shifts (e.g., temperature and precipitation changes) and local resource impacts. Resource management in a changing climate is challenging because future climate change and resource responses cannot be precisely predicted. Scenario planning is a tool to assess the range of plausible future conditions. However, selecting, acquiring, synthesizing, and scaling climate information for scenario planning requires significant time and skills. This project has three goals: 1) synthesize climate data into 3-5 distinctly different but plausible climate summaries for the northern Great Plains region; 2) craft summaries of these climate futures that are relevant to local...
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Plant species richness and diversity influence ecosystem functioning; therefore, they are important indicators of ecosystem health. To be useful to managers and decision-makers, though, the natural range of variation for the indicators must be known, and an understanding of how various natural and anthropogenic forces affect the indicators must be had. This project compiled published literature and analyzed data from available long-term studies to provide this information for Great Plains grasslands, one of the most threatened ecosystems in North America.
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    map background search result map search result map Projecting the Future Encroachment of Woody Vegetation into Grasslands of the Northern Great Plains by Simulating Climate Conditions and Possible Management Actions Projecting the Future Encroachment of Woody Vegetation into Grasslands of the Northern Great Plains by Simulating Climate Conditions and Possible Management Actions