Faculty and students in the Department of Biology conduct research in diverse areas of ecology and evolution that address basic and applied questions. Major research efforts include regional studies of vegetation dynamics on Virginia’s barrier islands, water quality of Atlantic coastal rivers and estuaries, and tidal wetland responses to sea level rise. Research activities involve national and international efforts addressing climate change and north temperate forests, long-term studies of neo-tropical migratory birds, and investigations of harmful algal blooms in the Baltic Sea. Research efforts in evolutionary biology and systematics include co-evolution, plant-animal interactions, comparative morphology and anatomy, speciation, phylogenetics, and biogeography.
In addition to state-of-the art facilities housed in the Trani Center for Life Sciences, faculty and students have access to an array of diverse ecosystems located at the VCU Rice Rivers Center. The Rice Center, located 45 minutes from campus, includes frontage on the James River, a 20-hectare restored wetland, and mixed temperate forests. Student and faculty research is supported by government and private agencies, including the National Science Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Department of Energy, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Virginia Coast Reserve Long-Term Ecological Research Network,Virginia Sea Grant, and the Virginia Natural Heritage Program.