Kansas Natural Heritage Inventory

Research

The Kansas Natural Heritage Inventory undertakes a variety of research and inventory projects throughout the state and the Great Plains region. Site-specific biological inventories involve determining the presence and status of threatened, endangered, and other sensitive species, general floral and faunal inventories, and characterization of natural communities. This provides baseline natural resources information that can be used to identify high priority biological resources, develop conservation measures, meet regulatory requirements, and guide land management practices.

General plant and animal surveys increase our knowledge of the distribution and habitat associations of rare species. These surveys provide data useful in listing packages for protected species, biogeographic studies, and population trend analyses. Restoration and mitigation projects provide an understanding of plant community dynamics that allows us to attempt to create functional habitats that best replicate natural communities.

A complete list of KSNHI research is available here.

Featured Research

The United Plant Savers (UpS) is known for having developed “The List” of medicinal plants at risk for over-harvest.  This list is an important resource for the herbal product industry, regulatory agencies, and conservation organizations.  This project will evaluate and improve the scoring tool used to rank at-risk plants by soliciting information from knowledgeable individuals, collecting field data for key species, and conducting an analysis of the scores derived from the tool.    

Learn more

Ligusticum porteri, commonly known as osha, bear root, or chuchupate, is a slow-growing member of the parsley family (Apiaceae) that was used by Native Americans to treat a variety of ailments, particularly those relating to the lungs and heart.  Its roots currently are wild-harvested by individuals and herbal product companies for sale and use in treating influenza, bronchitis, and sore throat.  While there are many concerns that populations of osha are declining due to unsustainable harvest practices, baseline data are needed on osha populations and their resilience to different harvest pressures.  These data can determine what conservation measures may ensure ...

Learn more

This project addresses two natural resource planning initiatives: The Kansas Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan and the Western Governors' Association Initiative on Wildlife Corridors and Crucial Habitat.

Learn more

This project will allow KBS to update information and to examine general trends in vegetation patterns (woody species, weeds, native prairies) since 2003 on the Fort Riley Military Reservation in Riley and Geary counties in Kansas. Research goals of the project are :
1) survey and assess the current condition of vegetation in an 800-acre tract formerly in the Impact Area that was not surveyed in 2002/2003;
2) compare coverage of woody vegetation across the installation between 2002 and current;
3) compare current coverage of Lespedeza cuneata with prior surveys;
4) conduct follow-up assessments of floristic quality (FQA) on prairies ...

Learn more

This research investigates the habitat needs of state-threatened animals associated with eastern deciduous forest. As remaining forests continue to be lost to urbanization and agriculture, the identification of remaining habitat has become increasingly important. This project will employ three approaches: field studies to identify remaining populations and habitat parameters of two species (smooth earth snake and redbelly snake), development of a GIS-based map of original forest cover from 1850s Public Lands Surveys, and conducting ecological niche modeling to predict areas of occurrence for four species (smooth earth snake, redbelly snake, broadhead skink and spring peeper).

Learn more

Researchers are combining ethnobotany (cultural use of plants) and chemistry to identify naturally occurring medicinal compounds that can be used in marketable natural remedies, health-care and cosmetic products, and veterinary treatments. This project, overseen by Dr. Barbara Timmermann (KU Department of Medicinal Chemistry) and Dr. Kelly Kindscher (Kansas Biological Survey), is being funded by a five-year, $5 million grant from Heartland Plant Innovations, Inc., a for-profit entity created to receive support from the Kansas Bioscience Authority. The KU Field Station provides a field site for growing plants, where factors such as water and nutrients can be adjusted to test their ...

Learn more