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MSU researchers join climate science team

batuhan toker/Getty Images young corn in dried out dirt
CLIMATE CHALLENGES: The ninth regional U.S. Geological Survey Climate Adaptation Science Center will look at widespread challenges, from conservation and invasive species to wildfire and drought.
Partner institutions in the Midwest will address climate challenges.

To conduct leading research that yields actionable results, and to communicate those findings with governments and natural resources agencies, Michigan State University researchers are teaming with eight partner institutions to advance climate science across the Midwest.

The new center, hosted by the University of Minnesota, is the ninth regional U.S. Geological Survey Climate Adaptation Science Center that will look at widespread challenges, from conservation and invasive species to wildfire and drought.

These teams of world-renowned scientists are strategically located, lending expertise on a variety of natural resources topics to specific regions of the country.

The Midwest CASC covers the Great Lakes — the world’s largest freshwater system — the upper basin of the Mississippi River — the country’s largest river system— and an array of forests and grasslands. Urban and rural areas dot the Midwest, as well as a variety of cultures and traditions.

While MSU has three scientists on the Midwest CASC leadership team, other MSU researchers will have the opportunity to submit project proposals in the future.

The MSU leaders are:

  • Dana Infante, a professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and interim director of the MSU Institute of Water Research
  • Gary Roloff, a professor and chairperson in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife
  • Richard Kobe, a professor and chairperson in the Department of Forestry

Infante, who is also the assistant director for natural resources for MSU AgBioResearch, conducts research that uses landscape ecology, conservation biology and fisheries management approaches to better understand aquatic habitats and the organisms they support.

Her position is supported, in part, by the Partnership for Ecosystem Research and Management (PERM), an initiative uniting MSU with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and other fisheries and wildlife management agencies.

Alongside research, outreach is a foundational element to the center, including fostering relationships with private landowners and local, state, federal and tribal governments. The Midwest CASC places emphasis on working with tribal organizations, ensuring their voices are heard.

At MSU, Roloff collaborates with tribal partners in the Center for Cooperative Ecological Resilience. The program unites MSU with the Sault Ste. Marie tribe of Chippewa Indians to train tribal members to join the fisheries and wildlife management field through a graduate program.

Roloff also leads a research group that examines wildlife ecology and understanding the interactions between wildlife and forest management. Roloff works closely with MDNR and other management organizations, and his position is partially supported by PERM.

The third MSU member of the CASC leadership team, Kobe brings leadership experience and a research program on forest ecology. His area of study focuses on tree communities in temperate and tropical climates, with an interest in how drought and other environmental factors influence the species composition of forests.

Additionally, Kobe represents MSU on the MDNR forest management advisory committee, and with the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science.

Joining MSU in the Midwest CASC are the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Illinois, Indiana University, the College of Menominee Nation, the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, and The Nature Conservancy.

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