Studying climate change effects on plant traits: Reflections from an LTER Fellow

Graduate researcher, Kara Dobson, is a Ph.D. student in Dr. Phoebe Zarnetske’s Spatial and Community Ecology (SpaCE) Lab at Michigan State University. Her research focus is on the effects of climate warming and rainfall variability on plant traits. Climate change poses a looming threat to the functioning of ecosystems worldwide. Within ecosystems, my interest lies with plants and how they respond to stress caused by climate change. The way plants respond to stress varies widely and is dependent on things such as trait differences between plant species, differences in geographic location

Global warming impacts of intensively managed agricultural landscapes in SW Michigan: Reflections from an LTER Fellow

Graduate researcher, Pietro Sciusco, is a Ph.D. candidate in the Landscape Ecology and Ecosystem Science-LEES Lab at Michigan State University. His research interest is to estimate ecological processes and their contribution to climate change in highly managed agricultural landscapes in southwestern Michigan. This is primarily through satellite data (i.e., multi-source imaging, optical and radar) and ground measurements. There is strong scientific evidence that human activities, such as burning fossil fuels and industrial processes, are the major driver of climate change since the

My Spartan Summer: Creating drought conditions

The KBS LTER is featured in MSU Today's "My Spartan Summer". Original story, by Beth Brauer, can be found here. For more than 30 years, W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, located between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, has been part of the national Long-Term Ecological Research network, where MSU researchers have studied the effects of land use intensity in agricultural landscapes on yield, soil health, food webs and more. Led by MSU professor and principal investigator Nick Haddad, the MSU Kellogg Biological Research Station’s Long-Term Ecological Research team has

Kellogg Biological Station joins multi-state effort to increase the adoption of prairie strips across the Midwest

Before there were the gently rolling hills of farmland and forest we see today, southwest Michigan’s landscape included large areas of prairie habitat. Dominated by wildflowers, grasses, and sedges, these habitats were maintained by periodic fires and included oak barrens, dry sand prairies, and wetland prairies. Today, only a few remnants of Michigan’s historical prairies remain on the landscape.  Prairie strips, a conservation practice in row crops that protects soil and water while providing habitat for wildlife, are one way to restore these habitats to the

Are zebra mussels eating or helping toxic algae?

Long-term studies from the Kellogg Biological Station LTER reveal a surprising relationship. The original story, written by Emilie Lorditch, can be found on MSU Today. While invasive zebra mussels consume small plant-like organisms called phytoplankton, Michigan State University researchers 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.  “Microcystis literally means small cell, but numerous cells cluster together in colonies that can

Insects, big data and a passion for open science launch a rewarding career

Christie Bahlai shares how her entomology research and connections made as an MSU postdoc have contributed to work honored with a National Science Foundation early-career award. Postdoctoral researchers are critical contributors to Michigan State University’s (MSU) research, bringing experience and often fresh insight. Christie Bahlai, an assistant professor at Kent State University, was recently selected for a National Science Foundation (NSF) early-career award. Bahlai, a computational ecologist, earned degrees at the University of Guelph before joining University Distinguished

Organic field day to be hosted at KBS

Please join Herbruck's on Thursday, July 8, 2021 from 8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. for an Organic Field Day, hosted at the Kellogg Biological Station, 9702 N 40th St., Hickory Corners, Michigan. With over 500 certified organic farms in Michigan - and more in transition - organic production is an important aspect of Michigan agriculture.  Organic practices can aid in creating resilient farming systems by successfully implementing cover crops, building soil health, planting green, and more. Information about the latest organic research and technology, alongside conversations with organic

Herbicide resistant weeds threaten conservation agriculture

East Lansing, MI – Soybean farmers are turning away from conservation agriculture practices that protect soil and environmental health to manage herbicide resistant weeds, say researchers in Michigan State University’s (MSU) Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics (AFRE). In a new study published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Braeden Van Deynze (now a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Washington), Scott Swinton (MSU), and David Hennessy (MSU), examined the herbicide and tillage records of thousands of soybean farmers across the United

Designing agricultural landscapes to provide more than crops

Agriculture is the defining feature of many rural North American landscapes. Over time, a focus on productivity and large-scale cultivation of commodity crops has resulted in agricultural landscapes dominated by large, homogenous fields, such as the corn and soy that blanket the Midwest. But agricultural landscapes provide more than just the crops grown on them. They also offer animal and plant habitat, clean our water and air, and capture carbon in the soil—a host of services often termed ecosystem services. Many key co-benefits are thanks to insects and other arthropods: they pollinate

Novel windows through time open fresh views of long-term research

Just over 40 years ago, the National Science Foundation (NSF) posited a visionary idea: the establishment of a national network of Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites. Today, these 28 sites carry an unprecedented database of decades-long ecological observations and experiments. Michigan State University’s LTER site, located at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) near Battle Creek, Mich., was founded in 1988 to employ and understand the ecology of Midwest cropping systems and agricultural landscapes. Researchers study interactions among plants, microbes,