Women in prairie with wildflowers

Kansas Biological Survey & Center for Ecological Research

Our vision: To lead scientific discovery that fosters broad appreciation of the vital interactions between humans and the environment.

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Research programs and services

People wearing hats working in field

Terrestrial ecosystems

Our group of labs focusing on terrestrial ecosystems research
Two people standing in a stream bed

Aquatic ecosystems

Our group of labs focusing on aquatic ecosystems research
Portion of map of eastern Kansas

Geospatial research

Environmental and ag applications of remote sensing technology, with interactive maps

Research programs and services line 2

Five people on boat on lake

Aquatic assessment

Our group of labs focusing on the health of our region's streams and reservoirs
Meadow flowers with woman in distance

Kansas Natural Heritage Inventory

The Kansas representative for NatureServe, which tracks North American biodiversity
Monarch butterflies on shrub

Monarch Watch

KU's internationally known research, education and monarch butterfly tracking program
Aerial view of greenhouses

The KU Field Station

In addition to our focus on terrestrial, aquatic and geospatial research, we manage the University's biological field station. Founded in 1947, the KU Field Station has grown to 3,200 acres across three sites and welcomes all researchers. The 1,650-acre core research area, just 20 minutes from main campus, is open the entire KU community for study in any subject and includes five miles of public trails.

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Young researchers gathered around a table of plants in greenhouse


Want to support ecological research, teaching and outreach? Make an unrestricted donation or choose your area of giving. Give online or get in touch.

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Research highlights

That's how many we are. We're a busy and diverse group of faculty scientists, research faculty and other researchers serving as principal investigators in ongoing grant-funded projects. Our group also includes postdoctoral researchers, lab managers, staff operating the KU Field Station and Monarch Watch, and administrative staff members. About 40 students work in our labs each semester.
That's the average number of sponsored research projects conducted by our scientists each year. The National Science Foundation is consistently our largest grantor. State funding is used to study many issues related to water quality and quantity, as well as mapping and quantifying habitats across Kansas. Other notable funding sources are industry and nonprofit foundations.
That's the total acreage of the KU Field Station across three sites here in the prairie-forest ecotone. Our core research and operations area contains diverse natural and managed habitats and a wealth of centralized research facilities and support. It's also a research and teaching resource for the entire KU community across the sciences, arts, humanities and professional schools.
That's the average number of peer-reviewed publications we produce each year. Postdoctoral researchers and graduate students are involved in much of the research reported in these publications. In addition, we have published a total of more than 200 Kansas Biological Survey reports on research of interest to the state of Kansas, and we give many interviews to local and national media.
Fall wildflowers and grasses

Annual Report 2022

In 2022, our researchers rebounded with more than $15M in active awards, growth in our research community, expansion of our facilities, a significant rise in our outreach activities, and planning to increase diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB). Through our report, we share statistics, stories and photos.

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The public is invited to the summer semiannual tour of the University of Kansas Native Medicinal Plant Research Garden at 7 p.m. June 21, one day after the summer solstice.

Nine middle school science teachers from Kansas converged at the KU Field Station, just north of Lawrence, this week. They took part in the Ecosystems of Kansas Summer Institute, an immersive program that gives secondary educators the chance to work with KU scientists to explore resources and gain…

Illustration of yellow flower, grass and sky with Up From Dust text overlay

Amble through Kansas prairies and cornfields as we learn how treasuring the ground beneath our feet can lead to farms that better withstand climate change, use less fertilizer and suck carbon out of the atmosphere.

Stay up to date with our research & activities

Understanding Our Environment is a quarterly newsletter celebrating the discoveries and activities of the scientists, staff, students and colleagues of the Kansas Biological Survey & Center for Ecological Research—as well as happenings at the University of Kansas Field Station.
Prairie site with researchers in background

Monitoring Prairie Park prairie

From May 2023 through June 2024, KU ecologists monitored the Prairie Park prairie remnant, following the accidental broadcast spraying there by the City of Lawrence. We will present findings at a seminar on Sept. 13 at KU.

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