Core research and operations area, 350 Wild Horse Road
The 1,800-acre core research area, just a few miles north of the University of Kansas main campus, includes laboratories and classrooms, gardening areas, a workshop and support buildings, experimental ponds and visitor cabins. These centrally-located facilities support research and teaching on the surrounding lands. The area's proximity to campus is almost unique among university-based biological field stations, which facilitates its use as a teaching site for the entire university.
Armitage Education Center
The centerpiece facility for the core research area, the Armitage Center provides a venue for courses, workshops, lectures, and special events. A 600-sqare-foot classroom/lecture hall accomodates a variety of events for 35 to 50 people depending on the configuration. The adjacent gathering area and kitchen facilities provide a homelike setting for researchers and visitors, and make it possible to accomodate larger groups for various types of events.
Five laboratory rooms are available: Two accommodate wet chemistry (with fume hoods and chemical benches), and the remainder are general-purpose workrooms. Specialized facilities include a small animal care/holding unit and a specially-designed 1200-square-foot laboratory for aquatic research with a flow-through water supply from the experimental pond facility.
A greenhouse/mesocosm building just outside the Armitage Center makes it possible to conduct sheltered, controlled experimental studies in both terrestrial and aquatic research. A smaller greenhouse within the structure provides for year-round plant propagation and care, independent of studies taking place in the larger greenhouse area.
Biodiversity research site
This 10-acre site, surrounded by exclosure fencing, is integrated with existing research infrastructure and was built to support a current NSF-funded research experiment. The site houses 726 research test plots that manipulate soil and rainfall factors, with room inside the fenced area to accommodate future site research expansions.
Two sleeping cabins with two beds each are available to visiting researchers. Kitchen, shower and laundry facilities, as well as high-speed Internet, are provided in the Armitage Center a few steps away.
Workshop and staging
A well-equipped maintenance shop is available for researchers to build, modify and repair field equipment. Two barns provide enclosed space for assembling components of field projects such as equipment, cages and other test systems.
Equipment housed at the field station—tractors, mowers, loaders, water haulers, off-road vehicles, fire rigs—is used to implement and maintain research projects.
Land for experimental manipulation
Large parcels of land for experimental manipulation are a strong feature of the KU Field Station. A variety of habitats are available to scientists.
A weather station provides comprehensive data in support of research.
NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network)
The KU Field Station is a satellite site for NEON, one of the most ambitious projects ever initiated by the National Science Foundation. Konza Prairie Biological Station, a site managed by Kansas State University, is the core site for NEON's Prairie Peninsula Domain. A "relocatable tower" equipped with various sensors for environmental monitoring was installed at the Field Station, and the data from this site, and all NEON sites, is freely available to users. More about NEON.
The pond array has 100 ponds in total (including 75, 0.1 ha cells) and several specially-constructed components. The design facilitates incorporating new research capabilities such as experimental streams or land-water interface systems.
Eighty of these mesocosms (11m3 fiberglass tanks) provide research in highly controlled field settings.
This 3-ha, 13-m deep impoundment, within a protected watershed, has unusually high water clarity for the region and undergoes strong thermal stratification.
Geohydrology Environmental Monitoring Site (GEMS)
Developed by scientists at the Kansas Geological Survey, this facility is dedicated to developing methods for evaluating and modeling aquifers; it also supports course and workshop offerings.
Habitat Fragmentation Facility
This facility was established in 1984 to study the interplay of secondary succession and habitat fragmentation on population and community dynamics. "Islands" of three sizes (72, 288, and 5000 m2) are maintained by mowing the interstitial area.
Lath house/plant care facilities
A 600-square-foot lath house, completely covered with 0.5-in. mesh screen, supports plant research and provides a protected location for other kinds of research.
Ample irrigated "gardening" areas at the headquarters facilitate diverse experiments.
Rockefeller Prairie Experiment
This prairie restoration was initiated in 1957 when fields were sown to a mixture of four prairie grasses. In 1962, tracts were assigned to one of four treatments: burning, mowing, grazing or untreated. This is now one of the longer running restorations in the region.
Fitch Natural History Reservation
This 239-ha former farm was abandoned from agriculture in 1948. Secondary succession on former pastures, corn fields and woodlands has proceeded undisturbed for more than 60 years. The site is particularly well-suited for studies of land use history. Note the woody plant invasion in a former livestock pasture in photos taken from near the same place in 1948 and 2000.
An 8-km (5-mile) nature trail system facilitates teaching and provides educational opportunities for the public.