At the Biodiversity Institute, we study the changing life and cultures of the planet — their composition, their evolutionary history, their geographic spread, their physical, genetic and behavioral characteristics, and their vital ecological systems.

Our archaeological investigations, grounded in collections of 1.2 million artifacts, document and reveal the cultural history of Great Plains peoples. Worldwide survey and collecting expeditions discover and document our fantastic diversity of animals and plants, many of which are threatened or endangered. Analyses of genetic, physical and behavioral characteristics of living and extinct species reveal their intricate history and kinships across space and time.

With the latest, powerful tools of information technology, we harness the biological data associated with our 8 million specimens of animals and plants to forecast critical environmental events, such as the spread of diseases, invasive species and agricultural pests, and the effect of climate change on our planet’s animals and plants.

The Biodiversity Institute has been involved in hundreds of research projects and expeditions throughout its history. Explore a few of our current and previous projects.

General Projects (82) »
Expeditions (15) »
Dissertations (1) »

Featured Research

Philippine flat-headed frog

Philippine Biodiversity

Comprehensive Biotic Survey of Philippine Land Vertebrates and their Parasites

This project represents an integrated team effort to comprehensively survey, review, and summarize the biodiversity of terrestrial vertebrates and parasites from the megadiverse, global conservation hotspot, the Philippines.         Together with many collaborators and students we will survey vertebrate and parasite diversity at more than 50 sites throughout the...

Lichenized fungi (or lichens) are fungus species with a photosynthethic organism (a green alga or cyanobacterium)...

General Project

Sampling of birds to develop modern series of specimens and tissue samples for avian systematics.

Expedition
Collections

Archaeology Details

(past cultures)
Web site

Established: 1895
Number of Specimens: 1.5 million artifacts
Research Strengths
Material culture studies of prehistoric and early historic peoples of the Great Plains, lithic and ceramic analysis, geoarchaeology and paleoethnobotany.
Curator
Mary Adair 785.864.2675

Botany Details

(Plants)
Web site

Established: 1866
Number of Specimens: 400,000 specimens
Research Strengths
Flora of the Great Plains
Curator in Charge
Craig Freeman 785.864.3453
Curator
Mark Mort 785.864.5706
Collection Manager
Caleb Morse 785.864.4493

Entomology Details

(Insects)
Web site

Established: 1870
Number of Specimens: 4.7 million specimens
Research Strengths
Global bee diversity, fossil insects and Midwestern, Mexican, and tropical insects.
Curator in Charge
Michael Engel 785.864.2319
Curator
Caroline Chaboo 785.864.5173
Andrew Short 785.864.2323
Collection Manager
Zachary Falin 785.864.3034
Jennifer Thomas 785.864.2234

Herpetology Details

(Amphibians and Reptiles)
Web site

Established: 1900
Number of Specimens: 330,000 specimens
Research Strengths
Systematic herpetology
Curator in Charge
Rafe Brown 785.864.3403
Curator
Richard Glor

Invertebrate Zoology Details

(Sea Anemones, Corals, Jellyfish, Mollusks and Worms)
Web site

Established: 1993
Number of Specimens: hundreds of specimen lots of sea anemones, medusozoans, mussels, land snails, crayfish, earthworms and many other invertebrate specimens
Research Strengths
Sea anemones and earthworms
Curator
Daphne Fautin 785.864.3062

Ichthyology

(Fishes)
Web site

Established: 1864
Number of Specimens: Geographically and taxonomically diverse tissue collection of 9,500 fishes: 660,000 preserved fishes with an emphasis on the midwest: significant osteological preparations.
Research Strengths
Evolution and systematics of teleost fishes.
Curator
Leo Smith
Collection Manager
Andrew Bentley 785.864.3863

Invertebrate Paleontology Details

(Fossil Mollusks, Trilobites, Brachiopods, Crinoids and Corals)
Web site

Established: 1884
Number of Specimens: 900,000 specimens
Research Strengths
Phylogenetic patterns in arthropods; paleobiogeography; and the study of the Cambrian radiation
Curator
Bruce Lieberman 785.864.2741
Collection Manager
Una Farrell 785.864.2747

Mammalogy Details

(Mammals)
Web site

Established: 1866
Number of Specimens: 169,000 specimens
Research Strengths
conservation of Latin American mammals; population ecology, host-parasite relationships, and disease ecology of mammals of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains; historical biogeography and evolution of Southeast Asian bats and insectivores; and phylogeography of Pacific Northwest mammals
Curator
Robert Timm 785.864.3047

Ornithology Details

(Birds)
Web site

Established: 1873
Number of Specimens: 107,000 specimens
Research Strengths
Extensive program of avian inventories worldwide, with recent sampling trips to Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Fiji, Sierra Leone, Vietnam, and Palau. Expertise in molecular phylogenetics and phylogeography, niche modeling and biogeography, and pathogen surveillance in birds.
Curator in Charge
Robert Moyle 785.864.1870
Curator
A. Townsend Peterson 785.864.3926
Collection Manager
Mark Robbins 785.864.3657

Paleobotany Details

(Fossil Plants)
Web site

Established: 1888
Number of Specimens: 90,000 lots with an estimated 400,000 specimens
Research Strengths
The anatomy, morphology and reproductive biology, as well as plant-animal and plant-microbe interactions of the flora of the Late Permian (~250 million years ago) and Middle Triassic (238 mya) floras from Antarctica.
Curator in Charge
Edith Taylor 785.864.3621
Curator
Thomas Taylor 785.864.3625
Collection Manager
Rudolph Serbet 785.864.3410

Parasitology

(Parasites of Sharks and Rays)
Web site

Established: 2005
Research Strengths
Parasites of sharks and rays, particularly tapeworms
Curator
Kirsten Jensen 785.864.5826

Vertebrate Paleontology Details

(Fossil Fishes, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals)
Web site

Established: 1890
Number of Specimens: 150,000 specimens
Research Strengths
Paleozoic and Mesozoic fishes, Paleozoic tetrapods, Mesozoic marine vertebrates, Cenozoic small mammals and Natural Trap Cave fauna
Collection Manager
Desui Miao 785.864.3317