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.
The faculty, postdoc, and graduate student directories provide general descriptions of our diverse research initiatives. A more vivid and dynamic picture can be seen from the news stories posted on our home page and abstracted below. Feel free to contact any of us for more information.
Our Research in the News
- Fresh Discoveries From an Old Fish: Gar is the New Biomedical Friend of Zebrafish and Human
The genome of a slowly evolving fish, the spotted gar, is very similar to the genomes of both zebrafish and humans, and can be used as a ‘bridge species’ that opens a pathway to important advancements in biomedical research focused on human diseases. That is the conclusion of an international research consortium outlined in a paper lead-authored by newly appointed MSU assistant professor Ingo Braasch.
- Trinidadian Guppies: A New Model System for Conservation?
Sarah Fitzpatrick, a postdoc at MSU's W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, and researchers from Colorado State University have documented genetic rescue in guppies, which was recently published in Evolutionary Applications. These findings suggest that this species could also provide a model system for informing effective conservation and management of imperiled populations.
- New Finding Shows that Males Can Drive Creation of New Species
Evolutionary biologists often debate on whether sexual selection can lead to new species. Most studies have focused on natural selection or, for the few studies that considered sexual selection, on how picky females select mates and drive evolution.
Researchers at Michigan State University, with the help of some stickleback fish, have shown that intense competition among males most definitely has a big say in creating new species. The results, featured in the January issue of Ecology Letters, also show that such competition can reverse the process, actually erasing boundaries between species.