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Biodiversity Blog

 
Nicole handles the communications for the Biodiversity Center.
Meet Outreach Program Coordinator: Laurel Treviño

Meet Outreach Program Coordinator: Laurel Treviño

 Laurel setting up the lab for the Native Bees of Texas course. Laurel Treviño is Outreach Program Coordinator in Dr. Shalene Jha’s lab in the Department of Integrative Biology. Members of the Jha Lab examine ecological and evolutionary processes across biological scales, from genes to landscapes, to quantify global change impacts on plant-...
A Northern Cardinal in North Austin

A Northern Cardinal in North Austin

Male cardinal. (Photo: Gary Leavens - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license) I awoke on a Sunday morning last week, started the coffee, then opened the curtains to my backyard. My usual habit, but on this Sunday, I had the surprise of seeing a female Northern Cardinal duck into the tight weave of a climbing rose about seve...
Meet Stengl-Wyer Scholar: Ummat Somjee

Meet Stengl-Wyer Scholar: Ummat Somjee

Ummat Somjee is one of our 2021 Stengl-Wyer Scholars and is researching the evolution of exaggerated sexually-selected traits in animals. His research aims to understand how the energetic costs underlying these exaggerated traits may shape their evolution. As part of the Stengl Wyer Endowment, the Stengl Wyer Postdoctoral Scholars Program prov...
Pets as Invasive Species: Amphibians and Reptiles

Pets as Invasive Species: Amphibians and Reptiles

Burmese python. (Photo: Susan Jewell, US Fish and Wildlife Service, CC) In the pet trade, amphibians and reptiles are considered “exotic.” They and other species like certain fish and birds for example also share the same label. There is such a demand for exotics that the industry around them is a multi-billion dollar global business. That’s a l...
Trees of BFL: the Redbud

Trees of BFL: the Redbud

Photo collage: Larry Gilbert   Nothing quite signals the coming of spring in Austin like when a redbud tree starts to bloom. After our brief but botanically-drab Austin winters, the bright pink flowers are a welcome and invigorating sight. At Brackenridge Field Lab, redbuds grow there natively in places where limestone quarries existed in t...
UT Spring Bee Competition: We have a winner!

UT Spring Bee Competition: We have a winner!

Photo: Paige Durant The UT Spring Bee Competition has a winner! Paige Durant (class of '22) takes the prize of a pre-made Osmia mason bee house. Launched in January of this year, the contest rules are that anyone in the UT College of Natural Science community (staff, students, faculty) be the first to submit a 2022 photo of a Travis County mason...

Meet Stengl-Wyer Fellow: Nikunj Goel

Goel 1Nikunj modeling source-sink dynamics at range limits. Nikunj is one of our 2021 Stengl-Wyer Fellows. He is a theoretical biogeographer working in the lab of Dr. Tim Keitt at the Department of Integrative Biology. He is broadly interested in understanding how dispersal generates and maintains biodiversity. As a Stengl-Wyer Fellow, he is buil...

Science Under the Stars is back with new hybrid format

SUS Feb2022The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed our lives. One thing that will probably never go away, for better or for worse, are remote meetings and online classes. But as some events begin to open up, the online formats are offering both in-person and remote experiences, thus opening access to audiences who could not have seen them otherwise. One of ...
What the Heck is a Lichen?

What the Heck is a Lichen?

 Cladonia parasitica, a lichen at Stengl Lost Pines (Photo: Liz Bowman) When my sister and I were little, my parents often took us camping in Colorado during the summers. We brought our Barbie dolls and when evening came around, we built pretend campfires and served pretend food. Part of those imaginative meals included lichen fragments we’...
Darwin Day Coming Your Way

Darwin Day Coming Your Way

Don't look so sad, Mr. D! You can have your cake and eat it too! Happy birthday, Mr. Charles Darwin! You would be 213 tomorrow, February 12, 2022. That would be a lot of candles on a very large cake, and take quite a set of lungs to blow them out. Darwin Day asks people to “reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual cu...
Meet Stengl-Wyer Scholar: Harry Siviter

Meet Stengl-Wyer Scholar: Harry Siviter

 Doing work in Senegal with baboons  Harry Siviter is one of our 2021 Stengl-Wyer Scholars and is researching how environmental factors contribute to bee decline. As part of the Stengl Wyer Endowment, the Stengl Wyer Postdoctoral Scholars Program provides up to three years of independent support for talented postdoctoral researche...
Pets as Invasive Species: Cats

Pets as Invasive Species: Cats

 Cute but deadly. Author's cat, Hazel, poses in the sun. It’s not often an invasive species is crowned as ruler of the internet. That title goes to cats. From chatrooms with “Meowspeak,” to I Can Haz Cheezeburger, to Grumpy Cat (R.I.P), it’s funny to imagine fire ants or zebra mussels ever getting adorable memes made about them. With cats, ...
UT Spring 2022 Bee Competition

UT Spring 2022 Bee Competition

 USDA Photo by Jack Dykinga The winner of this year's contest is Paige Durant! Click here to learn how she found this season's bees. Bring us the first Travis County mason bee of 2022, you’ll win a native Osmia bee house! Rationale: One measure of our changing climate is the shifting dates of emergence of our earliest spring flowers and in...
Meet Stengl-Wyer Fellow: David Ledesma

Meet Stengl-Wyer Fellow: David Ledesma

David Ledesma is one of our 2021 Stengl-Wyer Fellows. With his advisor Dr. Melissa Kemp, he studies the responses of herpetofauna (non-avian reptiles and amphibians) to environmental changes, and the long-term responses of herpetofauna over the last 21,000 years. As part of the Stengl Wyer Endowment, the Stengl Wyer Fellows Program supports ye...
What We Talk About When We Talk About Snakes

What We Talk About When We Talk About Snakes

What comes to mind when you imagine a snake? A rattler hissing and shaking its tail, ready to strike? A coral snake and the common identification rhyme “Red touches black, venom lack. Red touches yellow, kill a fellow”? Do you coil (pun intended) in fear? You’re not alone. Fear of snakes ranks in the top phobias for adults. This fear is called “oph...
Stengl-Wyer REU Program: supporting undergraduates in the natural sciences

Stengl-Wyer REU Program: supporting undergraduates in the natural sciences

 Jenifer Dubon (left) and Jaylin Knight (right) The Stengl-Wyer Endowment is the largest endowment in the history of the College of Natural Sciences. It supports UT Austin’s programming in ecology and biological research, with a focus on the study of the diversity of life and interactions between living things and their natural environments...
Meet Stengl Wyer Fellow: Nick Ivers

Meet Stengl Wyer Fellow: Nick Ivers

 Setting trap nests to catch cavity nesting bees and wasps in the Edwards Plateau. Nick Ivers is one of our 2021 Stengl-Wyer Fellows. He is a is a PhD candidate in the lab of Dr. Shalene Jha where they work towards the conservation of native pollinators amid rapid habitat loss and degradation. As part of the Stengl Wyer Endowment,...
Eel. It's what's for (Thanksgiving) dinner.

Eel. It's what's for (Thanksgiving) dinner.

 Illustration: Nicole Elmer Ah, Thanksgiving. We visit family, for better or for worse, slave for hours in the kitchen, gorge ourselves on football, and gather around a table to feast on a big fat roasted...eel? Historians agree that the very first Thanksgiving dinners had not only the ubiquitous turkey, but other fowl, venison, and yes, ee...
Applications open for the 2022 Stengl-Wyer Fellows Program

Applications open for the 2022 Stengl-Wyer Fellows Program

The College of Natural Sciences is pleased to announce that it is now accepting applications for the 2022 Stengl-Wyer Graduate Fellowship Competition. The Stengl-Wyer Graduate Fellowship funds doctoral candidates pursuing dissertation research on the diversity of life and organisms in their natural environments, across many disciplines wi...
History of UT Herpetology, Part 3: Eric Pianka, the "Lizard Man"

History of UT Herpetology, Part 3: Eric Pianka, the "Lizard Man"

 Pianka in his office. Eric Pianka hasn’t earned the nickname “Lizard Man” for nothing. His lifelong work with lizards started as a childhood fascination for them, and eventually made him one of the world authorities on lizard ecology. But with 150 publications and a career spanning over half a century at UT, maybe Pianka should have a few ...