Paradigm shifts: Re-envisioning agricultural landscapes to optimize ecosystem services

In 2013, the United Nations released a report projecting that the global population will reach 9.6 billion by the year 2050. This increase of 2.4 billion people between now and then is already beginning to challenge the world’s agricultural communities to provide adequate food, fuel and fiber while employing sustainable practices that conserve natural resources. The feat becomes more complex when coupled with the increasing demand to grow more bioenergy crops, combat biodiversity declines and regenerate the habitat of agriculturally important insects. Doug Landis, Michigan State University

Mud matters: reflections from a KBS LTER grad

Each year the KBS LTER program awards two graduate students with summer research fellowships. Here Dustin Kincaid describes the research his summer fellowship supported. Dustin is a Ph.D. student in Steve Hamilton's lab. ~~~ “ . . . the world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful” -ee cummings Mud matters. Especially in shallow water bodies. Or at least I’m convinced it matters—enough to spend most of my 2014 field season hip and often eyeball deep in mud anyways. As water flows across the landscape, interactions with mud, or more appropriately, sediments, influence the fluxes of

International training program promotes sustainable agriculture around the globe

This news piece by KBS LTER volunteer and retired journalist Bill Krasean. For 20 years agricultural scientists, policy makers and program managers have been coming from all over the world to Michigan State University’s Kellogg Biological Station Long-term Ecological Research (KBS LTER) site to study integrated pest management (IPM) and sustainable agriculture practices. Now Michigan State University (MSU) is turning the tables and taking the highly regarded agriculture program to them. "We have built a global network and now we are taking the program overseas so that more people

Close to nature at KBS: reflections from a summer intern

By Alex Whitlow, a 2014 summer intern at the Kellogg Biological Station working with the KBS LTER, MSU Extension, and KBS scientists. Alex's internship was funded by MSU Extension. Until this summer, the vast majority of my life was spent within the deep suburban sprawl of metro Detroit, where shopping malls and large almost-mansion took up most of the landscape. The most I saw of the human and natural ecosystem overlap came from the random, sparsely placed metro parks that served to feed suburbanites their daily dose of nature. Even when I started school at the farm-surrounded Michigan

Soil is life – let’s keep it healthy! Reflections from an undergrad researcher

Each summer the KBS LTER supports students to participate in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, funded by the National Science Foundation. This is part of a larger undergraduate research program at KBS. Alessandra Zuniga, a senior at New Mexico State University, writes about her REU experience working with KBS LTER scientists Christine Sprunger and Brendan O'Neill. Coming from the hot arid deserts of the southwest, I never expected to find myself in the middle of lush green Michigan. I was born and raised in the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico and had the privilege to

Fertilizing to help the planet

This news piece by KBS LTER volunteer and retired journalist Bill Krasean. Researchers at Michigan State University's Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) program have helped develop a way for farmers to reduce crop-related emissions of a greenhouse gas while potentially lowering fertilizer costs, maintaining crop yields, and getting paid to do so. KBS scientists have developed a program to reduce farm-related emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas that also destroys ozone in the stratosphere. Using data collected from Michigan farms,

When science meets policy: a grad student’s experience on the Hill

Every year the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America (ASA-CSSA-SSSA) hold a Congressional Visits Day (CVD) in Washington, D.C. during appropriations season. The goal is to have a strong presence of faculty, students, and crop advisors advocating for agricultural and natural resources research on Capitol Hill. This past March, I had the opportunity to participate in the 2014 CVD. I was one of 18 students who received a Future Leader in Science Award, which included an all expense paid trip to D.C. Awardees were chosen based

KBS LTER graduate students lead hands-on activities at MSU’s second annual science festival

By Bonnie McGill, KBS LTER graduate student Three LTER graduate students—Erin Haramoto, Christine Sprunger, and myself—spent this past Saturday in Lansing at MSU’s second annual SciFest (  The week long festival brings scientists out of their labs, away from their computer screens, and in from the field so they can share their excitement in and knowledge of science with the public.  Us three LTER students shared two scientific concepts near and dear to every KBS LTER-er: soil conservation and aquatic food webs.  Erin and Christine brought

Insect vacuum on the KBS LTER helps serve as an early warning system

By Bill Krasean, retired journalist and KBS LTER volunteer Every Friday mid-May through mid-October, a staff member at Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) program drives to a tall, narrow pipe on the main experiment site, opens a small door at the base of the tower and extracts a bottle filled with liquid and a cornucopia of insects. The little critters, victims of a strong suction at the top of the pole as they fly by, are shipped to the University of Illinois where Dr. David J. Voegtlin and Dr. Doris Lagos, experts in the identification of aphids,

“Cream of the crop” – LTER research in FUTURES magazine

KBS LTER scientists were recently featured in the latest issue of MSU's AgBioResearch FUTURES magazine. The article begins, "Like most students at the Michigan State University (MSU) W. K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS), which is renowned for advancements in ecological science and evolutionary biology, Christine Sprunger arrived eager to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty — literally. “When I took my first soils class as a sophomore at the University of Washington, I just kind of fell in love with the topic,” said Sprunger, now pursuing a dual doctoral degree in crop and soil