The Mission of the WSU Biological Field Station encompasses four central focal areas: Research, Teaching, Conservation and Public Outreach. A network of several distinct properties, the center of operations is located at the Ninnescah Reserve, which is located approximately 35 miles southwest of the Wichita State University campus. The unique resources offered at the reserves offer excellent opportunities for the study of grassland restoration, river ecology, and general wildlife biology. Some of the current investigations include prairie restoration and recovery from overgrazing, plant-insect interactions, the ecology of aquatic invertebrates, fitness maximization of birds in the non-breeding season, monitoring riparian and prairie bird nesting communities, stopover ecology of long distance Neotropical avian migrants, incidence of West Nile virus in birds, and monitoring of fish, amphibian, and reptile population dynamics.
Beginning with the acquisition of the Ninnescah Reserve in 1983 by the WSU Foundation (formerly known as the WSU Endowment Association), the Field Station has continued to grow as a place where research, instruction and outreach are conducted on areas which are managed to be healthy, natural systems that were once common to the areas in which they are situated.
The WSU Biological Station Laboratory and Classroom, located on the Ninnescah Reserve, was completed in June 2010. This climate controlled facility provides an excellent setting for biological research, education, and outreach programs. In addition to the field station manager's office, there is ample laboratory space and a seminar/classroom as well as a collection of plant and insect vouchers and a library in the building. The field station building's unique location at the Ninnescah Reserve offers a direct link to the diverse habitats which serve researchers, students and visitors from WSU. In addition to WSU activities, the field station has also attracted the research and teaching efforts of five universities and several local high schools.
The Ninnescah Reserve is located in the southeast quarter of section 7 and southwest quarter of section 8 of Township 29 South, Range 3 West of the Sixth Principal Meridian, Sedgwick County, Kansas. The site consists of about 330 acres of which, 66 acres of native mixed grass prairie and more than 200 acres of restored tall and mixed grass species, riparian and road border woodlands, wetlands, and stream tributary sites along a mile of the Ninnescah River. The entire area is fenced, except along the river, and has divided into 33 permanent ten-acre plots marked by steel poles. The geology, depth of ground water, and archeological sequence of the site have been determined. Three wells on the site have been cased. Burning, mowing, and haying are the major management practices on the prairie segments. As a result of recent BioBlitz activities and ongoing research, a total of 528 species have been recorded for the Ninnescah Reserve including 289 vascular plants, 168 birds, 33 mammals, 16 fish, 9 snakes, 6 turtles and 7 amphibians.
The resident manager's headquarters in the northwest corner of the Ninnescah Reserve includes mobile structures for lecture, laboratory, small office and library. A Butler-style building that houses maintenance and larger field equipment.
For more information about the Field Station contact:
Dr. Don Distler- Station Director:
Office: (620) 584-6626
Cell: (316) 978-3113
Matt Kraushar- Station Manager:
If you would like to support the research and conservation mission of the field station, please contact Director of Development, Marya McCrae- (316) 978-3945.