MSU Entomology class project featured in Science

It's not every day your class project is featured in the world's leading scientific journal, but it can happen. Just ask MSU graduate students Liz Davidson-Lowe, Bahodir Eschanov, Sara Hermann, Andrew Myers, Logan Rowe and Saisi Xue.

October 18, 2016

Photo credit: Dave Cappaert, Bugwood.org.

It’s not every day your class project is featured in the world’s leading scientific journal, but it can happen. Just ask Michigan State University graduate students Liz Davidson-Lowe, Bahodir Eschanov, Sara Hermann, Andrew Myers, Logan Rowe and Saisi Xue.

As part of a class on “Open Science and Reproducible Research” taught last fall by entomology research associate Dr. Christie Bahlai (currently with MSU Integrative Biology), students analyzed a 12-year long data set on the activity peaks of the Eastern firefly (Photinus pyralis) across 10 plant communities in southern Michigan. They found that firefly activity peaks typically around 800 degree-days (base 10 degrees Celsius) except in years with precipitation extremes – high or low rainfall – which significantly delayed firefly activity. Their findings have implications for how climate change may alter insect phenology.

An advocate of open science, Dr. Bahlai posted the resulting manuscript on the preprint archive bioRxiv, where it was noticed by a senior correspondent for “Science” who interviewed Dr. Bahlai about the project. The story appeared in the online version of Science News on Sept. 14, 2016, and in the print version on Sept. 23, 2016.

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