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Uncovering the Secrets of Resilience in Nature

Tufts biology researchers are studying species from birds and tadpoles to fruit flies seeking to understand their strength in the face of natural and man-made challenges

In the natural world, having the ability to adapt to changes in the environment can be the matter of life and death. Researchers in the Tufts biology department are exploring such bioresilience at different scales—from changes in DNA in fruit flies to tadpoles that are able to repair damaged cells, and entire ecosystems that adapt to widescale changes, often caused by human activity.

Working side by side with undergraduate and graduate students, researchers are seeking to discover insights into our world, with the goal of advancing conservation efforts and improving human medicine.

“One of the things I find fascinating is that animals tend to be more resilient than I thought,” says Michael Romero, professor pf biology. “We tend to think about someplace like Manhattan being completely barren of wild animals, and yet there’s a lot of species that do very well living there.”

If scientists can figure out how those animals are coping, he says, “hopefully we can start to understand how the ecosystem is put together and how we can help save these ecosystems from ourselves.”

This Tufts research was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation Biology Integration Institutes Program (Award # 2021362).

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