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 field station. Founded in 1947, the KU Field Station has grown to 3,300 acres across three sites and is open to researchers everywhere. Just 20 minutes from main campus, the 1,650-acre core research area is open to the entire KU community for study in any subject.

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Henry Fitch at KU Field Station in 1950s

Celebrating 75 years of learning

With the arrival of naturalist Henry Fitch in 1948, the KU Field Station was established as an active research site. In 2023, we will celebrate this important anniversary with public events throughout the season. Please check back for details.

Wildflowers in meadow

2021 Annual Report

Our resilient research community began to meet again, with more creative ways to connect, a higher proposal success rate, and an increase in funding for new awards. Through our report, we share statistics, stories and photos. (Watch for our 2022 Annual Report this spring.)

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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.
Two monarch butterflies on green shrubs

Help us take Monarch Watch into the future

We're excited to announce the new position of the Monarch Watch Endowed Directorship & Professorship at the University of Kansas. This will be a split appointment between the Kansas Biological Survey & Center for Ecological Research and the Dept. of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. Please share this information as part of our broad search. Review of applications begins Dec. 1.

Complete position description


Vadim Karatayev studies ecosystem resilience, including land management strategies. His most recent work reveals that warmer climates trigger the collapse of giant kelp forests all across California.

Comments by one of our scientists added to coverage of the spill: more specific info is needed to understand the effect of oil in local waters.

Clusters of monarch butterflies cling to pine branches

The number of monarch butterflies that have survived the migration to Mexico this fall appears to have plummeted.

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.