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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

MAPS Researcher Receives Three New NSF Awards


Dr. Jesse Nippert

      Dr. Jesse Nippert, Professor of Biology at Kansas State University (KSU) and research team member working with the Kansas NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 Award OIA-1656006: Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas (MAPS), has received three new National Science Foundations (NSF) Awards to study the impacts of global change on grassland ecosystems. The first award is a three-year grant funded by NSF Hydrological Sciences and is titled Digging deeper: Do deeper roots enhance deeper water and carbon fluxes and alter the trajectory of chemical weathering in woody-encroached grasslands? The goal of this research is to study "how deeper roots associated with woody plant encroachment enhances transport of water and carbon to greater depths, increases the water residence time in the subsurface, and enhances the potential for weathering at depth." The second award is also a three-year award supported by NSF-Macrosystems Biology and NEON-Enabled Science program and is titled Collaborative Research: MRA: A lineage-based framework to advance grassland macroecology and Earth System Modeling. This project seeks to advance the "predictability of grassy ecosystem responses to global change by measuring many grass species traits. The new data will be incorporated into new modeling approaches. The project will enhance understanding of grass ecology, with many applications in agriculture and natural resource management."  The third award comes from the Population and Community Ecology Cluster within the NSF-Division of Environmental Biology  This three-year award is titled Collaborative Research: Rainfall variability and the axes of tree-grass niche differentiation. The scope of this project is to study the savanna biome and combine experimental, observational and modeling approaches to "(1) identify the rainfall regimes that favor trees over grasses, (2) identify the functional traits and tradeoffs that differentiate savanna trees and grasses, and (3) develop and test a mechanistic model of tree and grass dynamics as a function of rainfall."  In addition, the project will examine"functional differences (e.g., drought tolerance, water use efficiency and functional rooting depth) between six tree and six grass species using a greenhouse, growth chamber and field experiments." The first two projects will use the experimental infrastructure of the Konza Prairie Biological Station and the third project's fieldwork will take place in Limpopo Province of South Africa.