LTER V was led by Blair, with Knapp, Briggs, Hartnett and Johnson, Dodds and Kaufman as Co-PIs. Knapp left KSU in 2003, but remained an active participant. The goals of the Konza LTER V program were three-fold:
1. to continue and expand the strong core LTER experiments on fire, grazing and climatic variability begun over 20 years ago, with the goal of improving our understanding of the major abiotic and biotic factors determining grassland structure and function;
2. to further develop a mechanistic and predictive understanding of grassland dynamics and responses to multiple global change phenomena, using ongoing and new long-term experiments and datasets, coupled with shorter-term supporting studies;
3. to expand our synthesis activities based on LTER results, and use these syntheses to develop and test current ecological theory.
Our LTER experiments explicitly addressed the major drivers of ecological dynamics in these grasslands, and their interactions with global change phenomena at local and regional scales. A major new emphasis of the Konza LTER program was global change and the responses of grassland ecosystems. We define global change broadly as human-induced alterations in climate, land-use, hydrologic and biogeochemical cycles, and species introductions. We focused our LTER studies on aspects of global change most relevant to grasslands: changes in land use (especially fire and grazing regimes) and land cover (increases in woody cover); climate change; altered nutrient cycles (enhanced N deposition); and biological invasions. New KSU faculty scientists added during LTER V included Tony Joern (Insect Ecology, 2003) and Samantha Wisely (2003, Wildlife Ecology), along with an increased number of investigators from other institutions.