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.

Learn more

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.

Learn more
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.

Learn more

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.

Learn more


For Van Go apprentice artist Barack Bennett-Robinson, drawing from emotion is part of making meaningful art. Bennett-Robinson created a bench for local conservation organization Monarch Watch. The bench memorializes Sarah Schmidt, who had worked at Monarch Watch for several years. Sarah, her…

Around 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. But that is not the only water source where plastic represents a significant intrusion. “We found microplastics in every lake we sampled,” said Ted Harris, associate research professor at the Kansas Biological Survey & Center for…

Swallowtail butterfly on lab table held by a person's gloved hands

Monarch Watch founder Chip Taylor is interviewed in this Flatland KC story about a new study that he endorses.

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

In May 2023, four KU ecologists began a year-long study to monitor of the Prairie Park prairie remnant, following the accidental broadcast spraying there by the City of Lawrence. We will post updates on the project, along with photos, here.

Learn more