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Heritage program scientists at the Smoky Hill Air National Guard range.

The Kansas Biological Survey houses the following programs. Survey scientists undertake a wide variety of research projects both within and in addition to these programs.

Core programs

The Aquatic Research Group conducts scientific studies on issues related to water quality and aquatic ecology using state-of-the-art technologies to collect and analyze critical information on the status and condition of Kansas reservoirs, wetlands and streams. The Central Plains Center for BioAssessment conducts research on freshwater ecology and water quality issues. It is a Society for Freshwater Science Certification Center taxonomic certification center and also facilitates the exchange of scientific information among scientists, governmental officials and the public. The Invertebrate Zoology Laboratory conducts mosquito monitoring in support of West Nile surveillance and monitors macroinvertebrates in playas and other seasonal wetlands. The Reservoir Assessment Program, an initiative begun in 2006, has provided critical information concerning the status and conditions of Kansas reservoirs. The program's current activities focus on expanding its reservoir information database to provide state and local officials with the facts needed to make informed decisions about the safety, supply and reliability of our state's valuable water resources.

The KU Ecosystems Research Group is a consortium of researchers seeking to understand how terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems around the world function. The group comprises faculty, postdoctoral researchers and students who explore Earth's vegetation, soil, water and climate, using diverse approaches, particularly in the context of climate change and land use.

The Kansas Natural Heritage Inventory collects, manages and disseminates information about the biological diversity of the state, emphasizing the plants, animals and natural communities that are sensitive, threatened or endangered. Data are made available to a wide variety of users to provide early notice of potential natural resource conflicts, to guide public and private land use decisions, and to develop conservation priorities. The Heritage program is among more than 80 members of the NatureServe network, which comprises natural heritage programs and conservation data centers throughout the Western Hemisphere. This network was initiated by The Nature Conservancy in 1974 and transferred to NatureServe in 1994.

The Kansas Applied Remote Sensing (KARS) program, established by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1972, conducts research on applications of remote sensing technology to a broad array of environmental and agricultural issues. Its interactive online maps, such as the Natural Resource Planner and the Green Report, provide environmental and infrastructural information of interest to the public and vital to land-use planners. The program works to facilitate technology transfer of a variety of products and services derived from remote sensing technologies to commercial, governmental and other end users.

Affiliated programs

The Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT) GIS Center provides an online map viewer and spatial representation of the Lesser Prairie Chicken Range-Wide Conservation Plan for a five-state consortium of state fish and wildlife agencies. 

Monarch Watch is a cooperative network of researchers, teachers, students and volunteers dedicated to the study of the monarch butterfly in nationwide efforts to promote the conservation of monarchs and their habitat; to further science education using monarchs; and to involve thousands of students and adults in a study of monarch's spectacular fall migration through North America. Since 1992, Monarch Watch has tracked the monarch's annual migration, going to the heart of the issue of wildlife habitat conservation. To collect cross-continental data, the program engages citizen scientists, including schoolchildren, through its outreach efforts. Monarch Watch involves more than 2,000 schools, nature centers and other organizations in the U.S. and Canada in its work, and an estimated 100,000 people participate in Monarch-tagging activities each year in the fall.

The Native Medicinal Plant Research Program, a collaboration between the Kansas Biological Survey and the KU Department of Medicinal Chemistry, began in 2009 as a broad-based search for medicinal compounds in plants native to the U.S. Great Plains. Since then, more than 300 collections of plants have been tested using state-of-the-art high-throughput screening at KU. Among the program's discoveries are powerful cancer-fighting compounds in a native Kansas species, Physalis longifolia, or wild tomatillo. The program's Native Medicinal Plant Research Garden, north of Lawrence, is part of the KU Field Station.



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