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Central US Ecological Observatory (CENTRUS)

Regional boundaries

The CENTRUS region encompasses the vast grasslands of the central US, from the shortgrass steppe at the front range of the Rocky Mountains to the mesic tallgrass prairies in eastern Kansas, and would include as anchor sites the Konza Prairie Biological Station LTER site in eastern Kansas and the Shortgrass Steppe LTER site in eastern Colorado. The northern extent of this region includes North and South Dakota, eastern Montana and eastern Wyoming. The central portion includes eastern Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma, while the southern extent includes central Texas. Overall, these sites encompass compelling N-S and E-W environmental gradients that govern ecological processes in central grasslands and related ecosystems, and comprise a network of secure research facilities of sufficient size and quality for long- term regional studies of the abiotic, biodiversity and ecological patterns and processes relevant to the central U.S.


Alan Knapp, Colorado State University,
John Blair, Kansas State University,
Carol Johnston, South Dakota State University,
Leonard Krishtalka, University of Kansas,
Linda Wallace, University of Oklahoma,

Organizational Status

Participants from a subset of the CENTRUS region have met several times over the past four years for regional NEON planning activities. Following the proposed expansion of the spatial coverage of the CENTRUS region at the Front Royal NEON meeting in January 2004, we have been enlisting participants from the northern and southern regions. An expanded CENTRUS Ecological Observatory regional meeting with these new participants is being planned for spring 2004.

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The CENTRUS Ecological Observatory will contribute to the overall NEON mission by providing a research platform in a region of the US made ecologically critical by its strong environmental gradients (N- S temperature, E-W precipitation), its historic and ongoing land use change, its habitat fragmentation and economic value (as the bread-basket of North America), and its inclusion of America's most endangered ecosystems — native grasslands.

map of NEON regions view high-resolution version (3865 x 5876, 1.4 MB PDF)

NEON Regions

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