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K-State to collaborate on research to forecast ecological consequences of environmental changes

MANHATTAN, KAN. -- How do climate change and other global environmental changes affect the average Kansan"

Researchers at Kansas State University are working to find out.

K-State, along with the University of Kansas, recently received grants totaling $9.25 million from the National Science Foundation -- $6.75 million -- and the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation -- $2.5 million -- to study ecological change in the Kansas River Basin and establish a virtual ecological forecasting center in Kansas.

"We have a world-class group of ecological researchers here," said Walter Dodds, professor of biology, who leads the research for K-State. "We're also very open to collaboration at K-State. This project plays to our strengths."

Dodds said related research at K-State includes that at the Konza Prairie Biological Station, an 8,616-acre native prairie preserve owned by The Nature Conservancy and K-State and operated as a field research station by K-State's Division of Biology; the Consortium for Global Research on Water-based Economies; and the Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis Laboratory.

Dodds said forecasting biological and ecological consequences of accelerating global changes is one of the grand challenges of the 21st century. The National Science Foundation is developing a National Ecological Observatory Network, with ecological observatories around the country to measure and observe the environment in hopes of answering regional- to continental-scale scientific questions. The work in Kansas is hoped to become part of this network.

"The Kansas River Basin is of economic and ecological interest to Kansas," Dodds said. "But it can also answer questions of interest to the nation and the world." Kansas' Central Plains are ecologically complex and provide a model ecosystem to assess and forecast impacts of global change, he said.

The grants will bring equipment, people and researc
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Contact: Walter Dodds
wkdodds@k-state.edu
785-532-6998
Kansas State University
14-May-2007


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