We study life in context. Our research aims to answer fundamental questions that address national needs related to sustainable biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human and animal health and welfare. We focus on developing an integrative understanding of how complex biological systems develop, function, interact and evolve in a complex and changing world. Our vision is based on the proposition that by examining biological phenomena at all levels of the hierarchy of life in their ecological and evolutionary contexts, we can identify more meaningful questions and develop more meaningful answers. We work across the entire tree of life at all levels of biological organization, ranging from molecules to global ecosystems, over time scales ranging from milliseconds to millennia.

Our directory provide general descriptions of the diverse research initiatives. A more vivid and dynamic picture can be seen from the news stories posted on our home page, news page, and abstracted below. Feel free to contact any of us for more information.


More Humans Always Mean Fewer African Carnivores, Right? Nope

African carnivores face numerous threats from humans. So, it’s a fair assumption that the presence of more humans automatically equates to decreases across the board for carnivores. New research led by Matthew Farr and Elise Zipkin shows that’s not always the case. 

For Hyenas, There's No 'I' in Clan

When it comes to advancing social status, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know ­– for humans and spotted hyenas alike. Eli Strauss and Kay Holekamp show that hyenas that form strong coalitions can gain social status, which can have lasting benefits over many generations.

When it Comes to Monarchs, Fall Migration Matters

Monarch butterfly numbers have been dropping precipitously for more than two decades. Scientists studying monarch butterflies have traditionally focused on two sources for their decline – winter habitat loss in Mexico and fewer milkweed plants in the Midwest. The Zipkin team has found that a critical piece of the butterfly’s annual cycle was missing – the fall migration.