Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Learning The Lessons Of The World's Oldest Ecological Experiment

Date:
May 8, 2006
Source:
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Summary:
Ecologists are getting ready to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the world's oldest ecological experiment. The Park Grass Experiment was set up at Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire in 1856 -- three years before Darwin published Origin of Species -- to answer crucial agricultural questions of the day but has since proved an invaluable resource for studying natural selection and biodiversity. A major review of Park Grass is published today in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Ecology.

Ecologists are getting ready to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the world's oldest ecological experiment. The Park Grass Experiment was set up at Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire in 1856 -- three years before Darwin published Origin of Species -- to answer crucial agricultural questions of the day but has since proved an invaluable resource for studying natural selection and biodiversity.

To mark the occasion, a major review of Park Grass is published today in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Ecology, and on 22nd-24th May 2006 Rothamsted Research is hosting an international symposium exploring the unique value of long-term ecological research.

Park Grass was originally designed to test the effect of fertilisers and manures on hay yields. However, it soon became apparent that the treatments were also affecting the botanical make-up of the plots and the ecology of this 2.8 ha field has been studied ever since. In spring, the field is a colourful tapestry of flowers and grasses, some plots still having the wide range of plants that most meadows probably contained hundreds of years ago.

According to the authors of the paper, Professor Jonathan Silvertown of The Open University and colleagues from Rothamsted Research, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Lincoln University in New Zealand: "Park Grass illustrates how long-term experiments grow in value with time and how they may be used to investigate scientific questions that were inconceivable at their inception. This is as likely to be true of the future of Park Grass as it has proved to be of its past." Over its 150 year history, Park Grass has:

  • demonstrated that conventional field trials probably underestimate threats to plant biodiversity from long term changes, such as soil acidification,
  • shown how plant species richness, biomass and pH are related,
  • has demonstrated that competition between plants can make the effects of climatic variation on communities more extreme,
  • provided one of the first demonstrations of local evolutionary change under different selection pressures and
  • endowed us with an archive of soil and hay samples that have been used to track the history of atmospheric pollution, including nuclear fallout.

"Today, Park Grass has acquired new relevance for the study of fundamental ecological processes and for nature conservation. It has inspired new ecological theory and has helped ecologists to recognise the value of long-term experiments in ecological studies," the authors say.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. "Learning The Lessons Of The World's Oldest Ecological Experiment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 May 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060508112629.htm>.
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. (2006, May 8). Learning The Lessons Of The World's Oldest Ecological Experiment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060508112629.htm
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. "Learning The Lessons Of The World's Oldest Ecological Experiment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060508112629.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) In a new study, a promising experimental treatment for Ebola managed to cure a group of infected macaque monkeys. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Hoping to break the record for world's wooliest, Shaun the sheep came up 10 pounds shy with his fleece weighing over 50 pounds after being shorn for the first time in years. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins