About Field Sites
UKFS is a terrestrial NEON field site located approximately 9 km (5.5 mi.) north of Lawrence, KS, near the eastern border of the state. The 6.2 km2 (1530 acre) site is encompassed within the University of Kansas Field Station, a biological field station owned and managed by KU. The location lies along an eastern deciduous forest and tallgrass prairie transition zone. The surrounding region consists of grasslands, forests, and agricultural land cover types and includes the largest remaining areas of unplowed tallgrass prairie in North America. Our UKFS site is part of the NEON Prairie Peninsula Domain (D06), which stretches from Kansas through Nebraska and Iowa to southern Minnesota, and moves east to encompass Illinois and most of Indiana. The Domain hosts four other NEON field sites: two aquatic and two additional terrestrial, all of which are located in Kansas. Land use and land use management are key grand challenge themes for this Domain. 
The University of Kansas Field station is in the eastern half of Kansas and has a continental climate characterized by warm, wet summers and cold, dry winters. Due to its mid-continental location, there are climatic fluctuations throughout the year. The mean annual temperature is 12.7°C (55°F). Temperatures can get as low as -18°C (0°F) in the winter and as high as 38°C (100°F) in the summer. There are intense storms during the spring and early summer caused by large amounts of moist air moving up from the Gulf of Mexico and mixing with colder, drier air from the north. The annual average precipitation is 990 mm (40 in.), and approximately 70% of it falls between April and September. Annual snowfall averages 460 mm (18 in.), mostly in January and February.   
Geologic characteristics of the University of Kansas Field Station are windblown sand and silt. These sediments are a result of glacial drift, having been lain down here after being transported by glaciers. 
The parent materials at the UKFS site are residuum, till, colluvium, and local alluvium. Major soil series on the site include Grundy, Martin, Oska, Pawnee, Rosendale, and Bendena. Landform positions that these soils occur on are residual summits, shoulder slopes, back slopes, colluvial foot slopes and toeslopes, and alluvial drainageways. The soil family is fine smectic-mesic Pachic Arguidolls, and the soil order is Mollisol.  
The UKFS site drains into Mud Creek, which is a tributary of the Kansas River. It lies within the Lower Kansas River Watershed, which belongs to the larger Kansas River Basin.  
About 66% of the land is covered in mixed hardwood forest, with the rest of the areas cleared for grassland, conservation, or agriculture. Forests are dominated by white ash (Fraxinus americana) and hackberry (Celtis occidentalis). Tallgrass prairie communities support perennial, warm-season grasses including big bluestem, indiangrass, and switchgrass.  
Wildlife typically found in and around the University of Kansas Field Station include the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), raccoon (Procyon lotor), many small mammals, snakes, frogs, skinks, and over 250 species of migratory and resident birds. There is also a small population of bobcats (Felis rufus) present. NEON provides data on five types of wildlife: small mammals, ground beetles, mosquitoes, ticks, and birds.   
Past Land Management and Use
Northeastern Kansas is in the transition zone between the eastern deciduous forest and tall grass prairie. In the 16th century, the Otoe and Missouria tribes moved down from the Great Lakes Region into what is now Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas. They were mainly hunter-gatherers and followed migrating buffalo in the lower Missouri River Valley. Their lands were good for farming, which led to conflicts with settlers migrating from the east. The United States government eventually stepped in and forced the Otoe-Missouria people onto a reservation on the Big Blue River in southeast Nebraska in 1855. They were moved again in 1881 to Red Rock, Oklahoma where the tribe is still located today. As settlers moved in during the 1850s, trees were cut down and land was cleared for farming. As time went on, fire suppression and abandoned farms led to an increase in woody plants and forest encroachment. In 1911, land owned by the first governor of Kansas, Dr. Charles Robinson, and his wife Sara was donated to the University of Kansas. This land was then chosen as the site of the University of Kansas Field Station in 1947 to help advance research, environmental education, and natural resource stewardship.   
Current Land Management and Use
The University of Kansas Field Station includes more than 3400 acres of protected research land, public trails, and specialized facilities in northeastern Kansas. Its native and managed land, facilities, and research are available to a wide range of people interested in research, teaching, and conservation. It is also a member of the Organization of Biological Field Stations (OBFS) and the Association of Ecosystem Research Centers (AERC). The Field Station is managed by the Kansas Biological Survey, whose main focus is to develop environmental research that contributes to scientific knowledge on air and water quality, ecosystem health, and geospatial information. 
NEON Site Establishment
Plot establishment for the UKFS site was completed in 2014 and terrestrial sampling began in February 2016. The distributed plots were allocated according to a spatially balanced and stratified-random design. The 2006 National Land Cover Database (NLCD) was selected for stratification because of the consistent and comparable data availability across the United States. The tower, which stands 32.5 m (106 ft.) and has six instrument levels, began sampling in August 2016. The tower plots were allocated according to a spatially balanced design in and around the NEON tower airshed.  
 Terrestrial Observation System (TOS) Site Characterization Report: Domain 06 NEON.DOC.003890vB
 Busch, M. (2016). NEON Site Level Plot Summary University of Kansas Field Station (UKFS). United States Department of Agriculture.
 Kansas Geological Survey, University of Kansas http://maps.kgs.ku.edu/state_geology/
 Kansas Biological Survey: Mammals of the KU Field Station. https://kbs.drupal.ku.edu/mammals-ku-field-station
 Kansas Biological Survey: Amphibians and Reptiles of the KU Field Station. https://kbs.drupal.ku.edu/amphibians-and-reptiles-ku-field-station
 Kansas Biological Survey: University of Kansas Field Station, Birds. http://kufs.ku.edu/resources/bird-list/
 Goodin, D.G., Mitchell, J.E., Knapp, M.C., & Bivens, R.E. (1995). Climate and Weather Atlas of Kansas: An Introduction. Kansas Geologic Survey. https://www.k-state.edu/ksclimate/documents/kgsed.pdf
 Climate Synopsis for the University of Kansas Field Station. http://kufs.ku.edu/media/kufs/libres/Weather_station/Climate%20Synopsis…
 USGS Water Resources. https://water.usgs.gov/lookup/getwatershed?10270104
 Terrestrial Instrument System (TIS, FIU) Site Characterization Supporting Data: Domain 06. NEON.DOC.011078vB
 The University of Kansas: Biological Survey. https://biosurvey.ku.edu/field-station
 The Otoe-Missouria Tribe. https://www.omtribe.org/who-we-are-history
 Hane, E. N., & Hamburg, S. P. (2002). Community dynamics of an ecotonal forest-prairie interface in northeastern Kansas. Great Plains Research, 275-294.
 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Midwest Region Endangered Species, Mead’s Milkweed (Asclepias meadii). https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/plants/meads/meadsmil.html
 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Midwest Region Endangered Species, Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid (Platanthera leucophaea). https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/plants/epfo/epfo.html
 PRISM Climate Group., Oregon State University, http://prism.oregonstate.edu, created 4 Feb 2004.
Remote sensing surveys of this field site collect lidar, spectrometer and high-resolution RGB camera data.
This site has a flux/meteorological tower that is 35 m (115 ft) tall with six measurement levels. The tower top extends above the vegetation canopy to allow sensors mounted at the top and along the tower to capture the full profile of atmospheric conditions from the top of the vegetation canopy to the ground. The tower collects physical and chemical properties of atmosphere-related processes, such as humidity, wind, and net ecosystem gas exchange. Precipitation data are collected by a tipping bucket at the top of the tower and a series of throughfalls located in the soil array.
One phenocam is attached to the top and the bottom of the tower. Here we show the images from the most recent hour. The full collection of images can be viewed on the Phenocam Gallery - click on either of the images below.
Soil Sensor Measurements
This site has five soil plots placed in an array within the airshed of the flux tower. Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) at soil surface, soil heat flux, solar radiation, and throughfall are measured at the soil surface in each soil plot. Soil moisture, soil temperature, and CO2 concentration are measured at multiple depths in each soil plot.
At terrestrial sites, field ecologists observe birds and plants, and sample ground beetles, mosquitoes, small mammals, soil microbes, and ticks. Lab analyses are carried out to provide further data on DNA sequences, pathogens, soils, sediments, and biogeochemistry. Learn more about terrestrial observations or explore this site's data products.
Field Site Data
University of Kansas
Site Access Allowed
Site Access Details
This site host welcomes and encourages research use that fits their mission and is compatible with their abilities as a host. Please plan on at more than two weeks advance notice to request and plan site access.
NEON Field Operations Office
Domain 06 Support Facility
NEON Field Operations Address
1500 Hayes Drive
Manhattan, KS 66502
NEON Field Operations Phone
Mean Annual Temperature
Mean Annual Precipitation
Dominant Wind Direction
Mean Canopy Height
Dominant NLCD Classes
Deciduous Forest, Pasture/Hay
Average number of green days
Average first greenness increase date
Average peak green date
Average first greenness decrease date
Average minimum greenness date
Number of Tower Levels
Megapit Soil Family
Fine - smectitic - mesic Pachic Argiudolls
Related Field Sites
Other Domain D06 Field Sites
Other Field Sites in KS