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Front of MSU College of Natural Science building, doors open and the cosmos is displayed inside.
August 9, 2023
Remarkable research can be found around every corner on MSU's main campus. Explore some of the surprising ways Spartans are transforming our understanding of life, our world and cosmos.
In response to warming temperatures, spring is now arriving substantially earlier than it did several decades ago. While North American songbirds are shifting when they migrate and breed, they are failing to keep pace with the rate of climate change, resulting in fewer young being produced.
July 24, 2023
Rising global temperatures are making it harder for birds to know when it’s spring and time to breed according to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A large collaboration led by Michigan State University integrative biologist Casey Youngflesh in partnership with the University of California, Los Angeles, has found that birds produce fewer young if they start breeding too early or late in the season. With climate change resulting in earlier springlike weather, the researchers report, birds have been unable to keep pace.
MSU team members join with their ACT NOW – Amazonas Action Alliance XPRIZE Rainforest semifinalist team members to scope Singapore’s Windsor Nature Park and Central Catchment Reserve as they wait assignment of their plot to identify what creatures live there.
June 1, 2023
Saving the rainforest, biodiversity, and in the process, the planet, is often framed as a high-stakes race. Now that race has a timetable, a $10 million prize, and ACTNOW Amazonas, a high-powered women-led multidisciplinary team of Michigan State University experts collaborating with innovators, indigenous rainforest protectors, and a dedicated film crew, who together are semifinalists for the XPRIZE Rainforest—a global competition aiming to enhance the world’s understanding of the rainforest ecosystems to protect it.
Two members of Audubon Great Lakes hold a black tern chick in a watery marsh in St. Clair Flats State Wildlife Area. They’re placing a tag on the bird that will help provide useful conservation data.
May 17, 2023
Current conservation practices likely won’t do enough to save the black tern, a migratory bird species that nests in the northern U.S. and southern Canada, from disappearing.That’s according to new research from MSU and the National Audubon Society published in the journal Biological Conservation. But there’s also good news. The team’s report reveals new opportunities to enhance the outlook for these birds by strategically expanding conservation and land management practices. The approach can also be adapted to inform conservation practices for other species.
MSU integrative biologist Janette Boughman in her fish lab.
May 8, 2023
Janette Boughman, professor of integrative biology in Michigan State University’s College of Natural Science, has been selected as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar for international academic exchange for the 2022-23 academic year. Boughman will collaborate with leading Australian biologists at Monash University and the University of New South Wales to study how specific ecological changes alter the evolutionary processes that generate and maintain biodiversity.
MSU integrative biologist Elise Zipkin was honored with the International Recognition of Professional Excellence Prize by Inter-Research, a German-based scientific publishing organization, for her work to transform data into insights and tools to manage and protect some of the world’s most precious ecology.
May 4, 2023
MSU integrative biologist Elise Zipkin has been honored with the International Recognition of Professional Excellence Prize for her groundbreaking work transforming mountains of data into insights and tools to manage and protect some of the world’s most precious ecology. The prize honors young ecologists who have published uniquely independent, original and/or challenging research representing an important scientific breakthrough, and/or who must work under particularly difficult conditions.
Bongolo Falls along the Louetsí River (Lebamba, Gabon) creates a fast-flowing habitat where both short duration and long duration mormyrids reside, capturing food and singing electric courtship songs at night. How their sperm and eggs meet in such environments remains a mystery.
April 26, 2023
Michigan State University integrative biologist Jason Gallant and colleagues are using nearly $1 million from the National Science Foundation to understand the implications from a small African fish which evolved to have sperm with no tails but an electric-powered mating call. Greater insight into this interesting trait could ultimately shed light on human disease and shake up biology lessons on traditional gender roles.
Damselflies live on the submerged aquatic plants that you can see growing just under the surface of the water at Pond 9 at the Lux Arbor Reserve.
April 26, 2023
Climate changes are conjuring a whirlwind ride that seems to present some creatures opportunities to thrive. Scientists scripting supercharged scenarios caution that the difference between seasonal coping and long-term adaption is vast – and tricky to predict. Michigan State University biologists are studying damselflies to understand how other species will respond to a warmer world. Their findings were recently published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
MSU researchers analyzed data from more than 300,000 biological science manuscripts to see if the authors’ demographics mattered when it came to deciding if research was worthy of publication.
March 13, 2023
Scientists’ careers are defined by their contributions to peer reviewed literature. Yet, a recent Michigan State University study reveals that peer review disadvantages some scientists more than others, but solutions to rectify this disparity remain elusive. MSU researchers analyzed data from more than 300,000 biological science manuscripts to see if the authors’ demographics mattered when it came to deciding if research was worthy of publication. The findings were published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.
New research led by Michigan State University is showing how vulnerable the threatened meltwater stonefly is to climate change.
March 2, 2023
New research led by Michigan State University integrative biologist Alisha Shah is showing how vulnerable the threatened meltwater stonefly is to climate change. Shah is part of a research team that’s examining the biology of these stoneflies against the backdrop of climate change. Their findings were recently published in the journal Functional Ecology.
Tree of life of teleost fishes representing the hypothesis of the current study.
February 27, 2023
An international consortium that includes Michigan State University researchers has solved an evolutionary quandary that’s been the subject of debate for five decades. Publishing its results earlier this month in the journal Science, the team’s genomic analyses conclusively resolve which modern fish lineage branched off earliest within the tree of life. The findings shed new light on the evolutionary history of fishes and the understanding of evolutionary processes.
The zebrafish is a freshwater fish belonging to the minnow family. It is an important and widely used vertebrate model organism in scientific research, notable for its regenerative abilities.
January 30, 2023
MSU integrative biologist Julia Ganz will use a two-year, $439,408 grant from the National Institutes of Health to explore the zebrafish’s unique superpower to gain insights that could someday lead to discoveries benefitting people suffering from neurological diseases of digestive system.
Michigan State University and the National Audubon Society are collaborating to project future impacts to hundreds of bird species, including the American redstart, pictured here.
January 17, 2023
Michigan State University and the National Audubon Society are teaming up to help protect declining bird populations across North America. With $1.3 million from a collaborative National Science Foundation grant, the team—led by MSU integrative biologist Elise Zipkin—will develop statistical models fueled by four massive data sets to evaluate how climate change and land use are affecting hundreds of bird species.
The western United States and mountains, such as those found in Colorado, are home to a large area of refugia for terrestrial biodiversity.
January 12, 2023
When the U.S. government committed last January to conserving 30 percent of the United States’ natural land and water by the year 2030, the decision was embraced by the majority of Americans. Now, Michigan State University ecologists are part of a team that’s sharing data to help inform those choices throughout the United States and beyond. Their research identified North America’s climate change refugia, habitats that will be the most likely to support the persistence of the greatest amount of biodiversity in the face of a changing climate.
Installation of the rainfall exclusion experiment at the KBS LTER, one of the new treatments added to the experiment in 2021.
January 10, 2023
The W.K. Kellogg Biological Station Long-Term Ecological Research program at Michigan State University was awarded a renewal of their foundational grant, reaffirming the program’s future and status as one of the country’s premier research sites. Continuation funding for the program began on Dec. 1, 2022 and will run through November 2028. MSU animal ecologist Nick Haddad and microbial ecologist Sarah Evans led the grant proposal, “Ecological and social mechanisms of resilience in agroecosystems.” In it, they detail the program’s new focus on climate change and land use change.
Hero image
July 15, 2021
For the spotted hyena, a kind of inheritance that has nothing to do with genetics turns out to be extremely important for health and longevity—social networks inherited from their mothers. A new study, published in the journal Science and based on 27 years of observational data from Michigan State University Distinguished Professor Kay Holekamp, expands an established theoretical model of spotted hyena social networking to show how these networks emerge, how long they last and how they affect a hyena’s life trajectory.

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