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

Learning the importance of interdisciplinary work: Reflections from an undergraduate researcher

Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) LTER 2019 undergraduate summer researcher, Ashlyn Royce. She wrote about her KBS LTER Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) project working with the Marquart-Pyatt Lab. The summer of 2019 I was selected to work with Dr. Sandy Marquart-Pyatt and her research team through the Michigan State University's Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, specifically working with the KBS Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Panel Farmer Survey. After accepting the position, I was a bit unsure of what to

Join the Kellogg Biological Station community for a celebration of art and science

Richland, MI – What happens when one combines science and art? Scientists and other members of the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station community have spent the past several months exploring this question, and are gathering next month to showcase and celebrate the results of that exploration. The public is invited to the free event, called the Allurement Salon, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, in the Richland Community Hall, located at 8985 Gull Road, across from the Richland Harding’s Market. The salon will feature expressions of research and the natural world through original

A peek at life under a wheat field: Reflections from an LTER Fellow

MSU graduate researcher, Allison Zahorec, is a PhD student in Dr. Doug Landis’s lab in the Department of Entomology at Michigan State University. When one envisions a typical midwestern farm, ‘biodiversity’ is hardly the first thing that comes to mind. Compared to more natural landscapes, agricultural lands can seem like ecological dead zones. Yet even the most intensively managed corn monocultures are teeming with life belowground. A few teaspoons of soil can contain over a billion individual organisms (largely microbes), and the diversity of soil-dwelling organisms is just as