Core research & operations area

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 and research site for the entire university.

This area contains large parcels of land available for experimental manipulation, a strong feature of the KU Field Station. A variety of habitats are available to scientists. Three of its long-term research areas are described below.

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 5,000 square meters) are maintained by mowing the interstitial area.

Rockefeller Prairie Experimental Tract

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 no treatment. This is one of the longest-running restorations in the region.

Fitch Natural History Reservation

This 239-hectare former farm was abandoned from agriculture in 1948 and, according to the management standards of the time, KU "allowed nature to run its course." Secondary succession on former pastures, corn fields and woodlands has proceeded undisturbed for more than 60 years. Thus, the site is particularly well-suited for studies of land use history.