Michael Benard

Professor, Department Chair of Biology


126 Millis Science Center

Other Information

Degree: Ph.D., Population Biology, University of California, Davis, 2005
B.S., Biology, Cornell University, 1999

In my research, I seek to determine how changing environments affect organisms’ abundances, traits and ecological interactions. Achieving this goal requires understanding how species respond to natural environmental variation, as well as understanding how they respond to human-caused disturbance such as habitat destruction and climate change. Understanding species’ responses will play a critical role in developing conservation strategies for imperiled species, and control strategies for harmful species. My main study organisms are amphibians, which are undergoing severe worldwide declines. It is important to determine why amphibians are declining and how we can stop those declines because amphibians provide important ecological services (e.g., insect control) and they can also serve as a sensitive indicator of environmental change that might directly harm humans (e.g., pollutants).

A video describing an aspect of amphibian ecology studied in the Benard Lab:


Recent Publications

Dimitrie, D.A. and M.F. Benard. 2023. Female treefrog preference for breeding sites matches offspring performance in the presence of two anuran competitors. Ecology. e4164.  https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.4164

Neptune, T.C. and M.F. Benard. 2023. Photoperiod effects in a freshwater community: Amphibian larvae develop faster and zooplankton abundance increases under an early‐season photoperiod. Ecology and Evolution. 13(8)e10400. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.10400

Rollins, H.B. and M.F. Benard.  2020. Challenges in predicting the outcome of competition based on climate change-induced phenological and body size shifts. Oecologia. 193: 749-759. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-020-04705-w

Dananay, K.L. and M. F. Benard. 2018. Artificial light at night decreases metamorphic duration and juvenile growth in a widespread amphibian.  Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 285: 20180367. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2018.0367