Kansas native Jesse Nippert loves the prairie. He spends much of his time immersed in the tall grass as an assistant professor at Kansas State University. Though agriculture has vastly changed the plains of North America, pockets of tall grass remain on rangeland and preserves. But the remaining tallgrass prairie, like grasslands all over the world, is changing as well, becoming, in many places, scrubland. The change is a problem for ranchers and an absorbing mystery for grassland ecologists. Jesse explains indications of positive feedbacks promoting the creeping spread of woody shrubs into the tallgrass prairie, from his paper in the November edition of Ecosphere, ESA’s new online-only, open-access journal.
Learn more about tallgrass prairie, C4 grasses, and the Konza Long Term Ecological Research site in the accompanying post on ESA’s blog, Ecotone.