Research

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

New Finding Shows that Males Can Drive Creation of New Species
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.

Using Artificial Intelligence and Evolution to Take Gaming to the Next Level
Using Artificial Intelligence and Evolution to Take Gaming to the Next Level

You have a new video game and have spent weeks trying to defend yourself against your arch enemy. You finally found his weakness and how to stop him, and are joyfully exacting revenge. But one day you play and that game plan doesn’t work anymore. So what happened?

Darwinian evolution stepped in and adapted your enemy’s response, and now you’re foiled. You can blame Arend Hintze, Michigan State University assistant professor in Integrative Biology and Computer Science and Engineering.

Larger (Relative) Brains = Higher IQ
Larger (Relative) Brains = Higher IQ

Why do humans and dolphins evolve large brains relative to the size of their bodies while blue whales and hippos have brains that are relatively puny?

While there has been much speculation regarding brain size and intelligence, a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by a group of recent graduate students from the Holekamp Lab confirms that species with brains that are large relative to their body are more intelligent.