The Kalamazoo Nature Center works with local, national, and international partners to conduct scientific research that supports the restoration and conservation of native habitats and species. Our projects range from short-term actions that address critical conservation needs to multi-decade population studies. KNC’s research program aims to deepen our collective understanding of Michigan’s natural communities and provide information to guide the activities of land managers, policy makers, and others who care for nature.

See recent publications here >

Conducting Research at the Kalamazoo Nature Center

Researchers who are interested in conducting research at KNC should contact Jen Meilinger at  for information about the application procedure. Researchers who are interested in collaborating with Kalamazoo Valley Bird Observatory should contact Rich Keith at .

Contact Us

Jen Meilinger
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Community Science Director

Rich Keith
Pronouns: he/him/his
KVBO Director

Mitchell’s Satyr Butterfly Propagation

Captive rearing is a critical conservation measure that can supplement and support declining populations of animals, such as the federally endangered Mitchell’s satyr butterfly (Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii). Only 10 Mitchell’s satyr butterfly populations remain of the 30 that previously existed across the northeastern United States, 9 of which are located in Michigan. The Kalamazoo Nature Center is home to one of just two Mitchell’s satyr propagation facilities in the country that is permitted to rear Mitchell’s satyr. Wild-caught butterflies are briefly held in our propagation facility to lay eggs, which metamorphose in captivity before augmenting dwindling populations. Additionally, the Kalamazoo Nature Center began a long-term study in 2020 that monitors temperature and humidity at multiple strata within occupied Mitchell’s satyr habitat. Data from this study will help to synchronize captive Mitchell’s satyr development with that of wild populations within our propagation facility, and has potential long-term applications considering that their globally rare, prairie fen habitat is highly vulnerable to human and environmental pressures.

Mitchell's satyr butterfly
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake

Population and Habitat Monitoring

KNC monitors populations of imperiled plant and animal species and their associated habitats across our 1,500 acres. A focal species of our monitoring efforts is the federally threatened eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus). These snakes have been observed in KNC’s wetlands and adjacent upland areas. Massasaugas use both of these areas for different parts of their life history. Wetland habitats offer perfect sites for massasauga hibernacula, or hibernation areas. As they emerge from their hibernacula in the spring, they will search for a mate and eventually make their way to nearby upland areas to give birth. Finding massasaugas in KNC wetlands implies that a population lives and reproduces on site opposed to them visiting from other locations. Regular monitoring of this population tracks the species’ health, growth, and distribution, which allows KNC to prioritize restoration activities in vital patches of suitable habitat and increase connectivity between populated patches of suitable habitat. If you are lucky enough to spot a massasuaga while out on our trails, please contact Jen Meilinger at  with the date, time, and location of your observation!

Kalamazoo Valley Bird Observatory

The Kalamazoo Valley Bird Observatory (KVBO) is a program of the Kalamazoo Nature Center that is over 30 years old! Collaborative research between KVBO and government agencies, universities, and non-governmental organizations allows individual birds to be tracked as they move throughout North America. Surveys, banding, and parasite sampling allows researchers at KVBO to examine how environmental changes, pests, and diseases impact the distribution and demography of bird species.

Learn more about KVBO here >

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Please note:  The Kalamazoo Nature Center is a private nature preserve.
Dogs, camping, drones, and firearms are not permitted. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trails.

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