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Hawaiian bobtail squid
January 24, 2024
Elizabeth Heath-Heckman, an assistant professor in the College of Natural Science, has received a five-year National Institutes of Health grant from the National Institute for General Medical Sciences totaling $1.9 million to support her research studying the bacteria animals like squid and newts use to protect themselves. This research could provide insights into how humans maintain beneficial bacteria in their gut.
Three spotted hyenas gather around a lioness.
December 7, 2023
Michigan State University researchers have shown that relationships and social interactions between hyenas influence when they “mob” lions.
One of the strengths of a new biodiversity modeling framework developed by Michigan State University researchers is its ability to combine data frame various sources. The researchers demonstrated this strength using a case study involving 10 Midwestern butterfly species, including the Peck’s skipper, or Polites peckius.
October 26, 2023
Integrative biologist Elise Zipkin and her team at Michigan State University have developed a framework that can help scientists understand trends in biodiversity by using data from well-characterized species to provide insights on data-deficient species. They’re using information from well-quantified animals to reveal insights about less common, harder-to-observe species. Now, they’re sharing their methods with the wider research and conservation community in the Journal of Animal Ecology.
California tiger salamander is one of the endangered species that would benefit from the use of genetic rescue.
October 3, 2023
During a recent review of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s recovery plans for more than 200 endangered and threatened vertebrate species in the United States, Michigan State University researchers made an interesting discovery. They found that two-thirds of these species could benefit from a gene-boosting diversity strategy known as genetic rescue, yet only three of these plans to support species recovery currently use this approach. In a study recently published in the Journal of Heredity, MSU integrative biologist Sarah Fitzpatrick and postdoctoral researcher Cinnamon Mittan-Moreau found that more than two-thirds of the 222 species they evaluated would be good candidates for consideration of genetic rescue.
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July 21, 2021
MSU Distinguished Professor Kay Holekamp and her students have been observing hyenas as part of The Maasai Mara Hyena Project for over 30 years, following, tagging, sampling blood and feces, and amassing a rich dataset helping to answer questions previously thought impossible outside the lab. In a new study led by former postdoc Zachary Laubach, they found that less maternal care during the infant’s first year of life and less social connectedness once independent of the communal den are associated later in life with higher concentrations of stress hormones and less global DNA methylation. The exciting new study is published in Nature Communications.
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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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June 27, 2021
Michigan State University-led research is showing how social dynamics can help us understand behaviors in geladas (a monkey species) and other primates, including humans. MSU integrative biologist Elizabeth Tinsley Johnson and collaborators at the University of Michigan, Arizona State University and Stony Brook University in New York, have studied geladas in Ethiopia’s Simien Mountain National Park for 14 years to look for answers. Their findings were published earlier this month in the journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
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June 24, 2021
While invasive zebra mussels consume small plant-like organisms called phytoplankton, MSU researchers Stephen Hamilton and Orlando Sarnelle discovered during a long-term study that zebra mussels can actually increase Microcystis, a type of phytoplankton known as “blue-green algae” or cyanobacteria, that forms harmful floating blooms. The study, titled Cascading effects: Insights from the U.S. Long Term Ecological Research Network, is one of five projects recently highlighted in a special feature in the Ecological Society of America’s journal, Ecosphere.

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