On-farm conservation practices to build resilience: Notes from a virtual field day

Monica Jean, Educator with Michigan State University Extension (MSUE), shares details from the recent Cropping System Resilience Virtual Field Day, held July 2020. For the original article, see the MSUE website. MSUE teamed up with The Kellogg Biological Station Long-term Ecological Research (KBS LTER) program and farmers in the Central Southern region of Michigan to host a live Cropping System Resilience Virtual Field Day in July. The day included a farm tour and interactive questions from the audience. During the tour, topics discussed were relay cropping, interseeding covers, and

A new perspective – using bioenergy crops to alleviate global warming: Reflections from an LTER fellow

Jinho Lee is a PhD student in the Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences Department at Michigan State University. He works in the Kravchenko lab with interests in carbon dynamics of soil. Today we are facing one of the biggest environmental challenges that our species has never faced, and one that is caused by our own actions. Since the Industrial Revolution, the worldwide carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have increased due to use of C-based fossil fuels. This has resulted in global warming.  To alleviate global warming and reduce the dependence on fossil fuels, several alternative

The metamorphosis of the monarch butterfly and the citizen scientist

Britney Christensen and Gabe Knowles joined Doug Landis' Lab through the NSF LTER RET Program (National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Teachers). This program matches K-12 teachers with local scientists for 8-10 weeks of field data collection and independent research. The goal is to enhance the professional development of K-12 science educators through research experience in order to then bring new knowledge into their classroom. Learn more about the KBS K-12 Partnership and future KBS RETs (professional development program supported by the KBS LTER). The

Understanding the role of microbial diversity in soil ecosystem functioning: Reflections from a LTER Fellow

Grant Falvo is a PhD student in the Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences Department at Michigan State University. He works in the Robertson lab within the disciplines of soil microbial ecology and biogeochemistry and is interested in global change phenomena broadly. There are more microorganisms in a typical handful of soil than there are people on this planet. Every year these microbes emit >5 times as much CO2 as all the fossil fuel emissions emitted by humans. Yet recent research is beginning to uncover the dominant role these microbes play in stabilizing a similarly large

Supporting Michigan farmers using soil health assessment tools: Reflections from an LTER fellow

Graduate researcher, Xinyi Tu, is a graduate student advised by Dr. Sieglinde Snapp in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences Department at Michigan State University (MSU). The term “soil health” is similar to that of the health of an organism – it originates from the underlying connection of soil to animal and human health, and to the connection between soil and its living biota. However, there is no concensus amongst scholars as to what soil health means, and various definitions can be found in the literature. This confusion translates to farmers through the creation

Welcoming our new Science Coordinator, Nameer Baker

We are excited to welcome Nameer Baker to the KBS LTER community. He joins us as the new Science Coordinator, and to get to know him better we sat him down (virtually) to answer a few questions! What’s your research background and interests? My background is in microbial ecology. My postdoc focused on microbes in the rhizosphere of switchgrass growing in marginal soil, and my PhD focused on litter decomposer communities in Mediterranean ecosystems. I was originally drawn to microbes because of their ubiquity - I wanted to study problems that were facing human society, and so many

Long-term data reveals how no-till agriculture increases crop yields and environmental gains over the long haul

Despite the environmental benefits of no-till agriculture, farmers often hesitate to change to this management approach due to uncertain economic returns. Sarah Cusser, postdoctoral research associate at the Kellogg Biological Station (KBS), and MSU terrestrial ecologist Nick Haddad, director of the Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) program at the Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) and professor in the Department of Integrative Biology, however, have just published a study in Global Change Biology that clearly demonstrates significant benefit

A message from our Director about research during the Covid-19 pandemic

Like everyone, we at KBS LTER are navigating difficult terrain with restrictions due to Covid-19. We have delayed some of our biggest new projects until next year. We will be missing our vibrant REU program and many other undergraduate students who typically come to live for the summer at KBS. Our most important concern is to maintain health and safety. We are able to continue some research. In particular, MSUs Vice President has identified as high priority long-term research, for which a lapse in maintenance or missing data could jeopardize an entire experiment. KBS LTERs 30-year

Improving the sustainability of agricultural systems through educational research: Reflections from an LTER Fellow

Graduate researcher, Craig Kohn, is a dual-Ph.D. candidate with Dr. Andy Anderson in the Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education Department and with the Environmental Science & Policy Program at Michigan State University (MSU). One of the key objectives of K-12 schooling in the United States is to prepare students to make more informed decisions in their personal and professional lives. This is particularly relevant for classroom science instruction. In fact, the need for more informed decision-making was a key motivation for recent widespread reforms in K-12 science

Using prairie strips to understand the value of diversifying agricultural landscapes: Reflections from an LTER Fellow

MSU graduate researcher, Lindsey Kemmerling, is a PhD student in Dr. Nick Haddad's lab at Michigan State University's Kellogg Biological Station. Society today faces three immense ecological challenges: preventing the loss of biodiversity, adapting to climate change, and sustainably supporting a growing population. Humans have caused a global biodiversity crisis, with new studies continuing to reveal stunning rates of biodiversity decline across the entire tree of life. Simultaneously, we are presented with the challenge of sustainably and equitably supporting a growing human