Button to scroll to the top of the page.

Biodiversity Blog

 
Nicole handles the communications for the Biodiversity Center.
The Return of the Snouts

The Return of the Snouts

 Photo: Larry Gilbert The period of rain here in Texas a few weeks ago was intense but welcome. The moisture brought a revival of plant life, and the return in Austin for some insects that depend on these plants. This was largely due to heavy rains that broke the drought 150-200 miles south of us. One such insect that has been seen in great...
Dr. Eric Pianka (1939-2022)

Dr. Eric Pianka (1939-2022)

 Photo: Larry Gilbert Dr. Eric Rodger Pianka was an evolutionary ecologist of enormous influence who spent his life studying lizards. Nicknamed “The Lizard Man,” his research covered a broad range of topics pertaining to the ecology, biology, and evolution of lizards, including rarity and responses to fire. His work contributed to the under...
Lichens we consume, lichens we admire

Lichens we consume, lichens we admire

 Cladonia parasitica, a lichen found at Stengl Lost Pines (Photo: Liz Bowman) Lichens are beautiful, sometimes otherworldly, in ways that aren’t overlooked by arts and culture. They also have had medicinal and culinary uses for millenia. As explored in What the Heck is a Lichen, our introductory blog, lichens are complex organisms created b...

Entomological Poetics: Reading for Insects in Japanese Literature and Culture

tapestry "The Divine Insect" (12th century). Nara National Museum.   We're happy to share info for this fascinating talk: "Entomological Poetics: Reading for Insects in Japanese Literature and Culture" by Professor Mary A. Knighton. It is hosted by the Center for East Asian Studies in the Department of Asian Studies (College of Liberal Ar...
Careers in Conservation with Dr. Nikhil Advani

Careers in Conservation with Dr. Nikhil Advani

  Join us for a talk exploring careers in conservation. Graduate and Undergraduate students are both welcome. We will hear from UT alum (BS 2004, PhD 2012) Dr. Nikhil Advani, who is currently the Director for Climate, Communities and Wildlife at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Washington DC. Dr. Advani will talk about how his time at UT prepared ...
Meet Lauren Hoff!

Meet Lauren Hoff!

 (Photo: George Yatskievych) Lauren is our new Assistant Curator in the Billie L. Turner Plant Resources Center. Lauren took some time out of her busy day to tell us a little about herself and how she got her start. Tell us where you came from before UT, and what you studied.  I recently graduated from California Polytechnic State Univ...
A Proper Home?

A Proper Home?

Cavity-nesting bee house showing bamboo reed that was stripped open. Common images of bees often show them living in a hive or colony. These are European honeybees and they are considered “social” bees. While some native bees, such as bumble bees, are social, most are solitary. This means that one solitary female bee makes and provisions her sma...
Announcing the 2022 Stengl-Wyer Scholars, Fellows and Grant Awardees

Announcing the 2022 Stengl-Wyer Scholars, Fellows and Grant Awardees

Funded by the Stengl-Wyer Endowment, the Stengl-Wyer Scholars Program provides up to three years of independent support for talented postdoctoral researchers in the broad area of the diversity of life and/or organisms in their natural environments. The endowment also supports the Stengl-Wyer Fellowship Program, year-long fellowships for doctoral ca...
A Chat with Botanist Domingos Cardoso

A Chat with Botanist Domingos Cardoso

Domingos holding an inflorescence of Parkia discolor, a legume species ecologically dominant in Amazonian periodically-flooded forests locally known as "igapós" Domingos Cardoso is an esteemed Brazilian botanist very active in biodiversity and conservation in Brazil. His main research interests are how evolutionary processes have shape...
March of the Central Texas Butterflies

March of the Central Texas Butterflies

  Butterflies never fail to fascinate young and old alike. They are the subject of countless paintings, poems, and for Professor James Glavan's (Head of the Costume Technology program in the Department of Theatre and Dance) class, Fabric Dyeing and Painting, they were the focus of an ambitious costume building project this spring semester. ...
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...