Submitted to: Shortgrass Steppe Symposium
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: October 2, 2002
Publication Date: January 10, 2003
Citation: Derner, J.D., Ashby, M.M. 2003. History of the central plains experimental range (CPER), 1937-2002. Shortgrass Steppe Symposium Abstracts. Technical Abstract: The Central Plains Experimental Range (CPER) was established in 1937 in response to the Dust Bowl years of the 1930's. The Forest Service administered CPER from this time until 1953 when the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) took over administrative responsibilities. The first research projects were initiated on CPER in 1939; one of these was the grazing intensity study (none, light, moderate, heavy), which continues to this day. Early research addressed range improvements, livestock responses to grazing treatments and forage production. Beginning in 1968 with the start of the International Biological Program (IBP), research increased in areas addressing ecological processes and functions. These efforts were further augmented with creation of the Shortgrass Steppe Long-Term Ecological Research (SGS-LTER) program in 1982. Research on the CPER is conducted by scientists from ARS, the SGS-LTER, Colorado State University and numerous universities from around the world. Currently, there are over 70 ongoing experiments investigating the ecology (e.g., nutrient cycling, global climate change, land-atmosphere interactions, paleoecology, fauna genetics and ecology) of the shortgrass steppe and management options (e.g., stocking rates and systems). New research projects on CPER will evaluate developed "state-and-transition" models, assess the influence of grazing management strategies on greenhouse gas fluxes and budgets, and determine the role of livestock behavior and grazing season on the creation and maintenance of mountain plover habitat.