Field station planning for the Ecological Research and Education Center, University of Kentucky

Grants and Contracts Details


We propose a planning-grant project to construct a 5-year plan for the continued development of the University of Kentucky's Ecological Research and Education Center (EREC) as a field station. The station is situated within the Bluegrass Ecoregion, a unique and poorly understood subset of the Eastern Mixed Mesophytic Deciduous Forest, where no other field stations are located. There is an 18-year history of research on the site, dominated by the use of semi-field approaches (replicated artificial systems in the field), based on artificial streams, mesocosms, ponds, and aviaries. A series of recent changes there, including the availability of excellent indoor research and meeting space, new research initiatives and funding successes, rapidly expanding use for coursework, the emergence of the BIOTIC outreach initiative, and the appointment of administrative leadership make this an ideal time to focus on field station development. In consultation with others who have done this successfully, we have designed a planning process and initiated the recruiting of participants who can help advance this effort. Intellectual Merit Advancing the study of native Bluegrass species and systems, while conducting experiments and monitoring the prevalence and impact of invasive species and diseases, is the current focus of research at EREC. We intend to accumulate long-term data sets and detect trends using statistical time-series analyses, and also to develop models to predict and explain patterns in the data. Semi-field studies of invasive species will complement field studies and laboratory analyses. The planning process will identify the improvements in monitoring technology, communications, and facilities likely to prove most beneficial for advancing this work and for drawing research collaborators from other institutions. Broader Impacts We are committed to the continuing expansion at EREC of undergraduate teaching, STEM teacher training, and community outreach, with contributions from faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and our PIMSER collaborators. The REU Site and BIOTIC outreach programs are expanding the reach of our educational role. The planning process will help us decide how to integrate research, teaching, and outreach to best effect.
Effective start/end date8/1/1412/31/16


  • National Science Foundation: $25,000.00


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