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Biodiversity Blog

 

BACK YARD BIODIVERSITY: Fireflies

FF1   Photo: Alex Wild Austin sits at the far southwestern corner of the range of the Eastern Firefly (Photinus pyralis), the species that gives eastern landscapes the characteristic dusk light show in early summer. This insect is common in neighborhoods around Austin, with large flights in April, May, and June and a smaller emergence w...

Viruses, biodiversity, and evolution

Virus planet web   Illustration: Nicole Elmer Viruses are tiny but their impact on life is huge. This is true not just for people, but for all life forms on earth. Some researchers believe that viruses might just be the most successful of earth’s inhabitants. But why might this be? To understand this requires looking at the attributes that allow liv...

BACKYARD BIODIVERSITY: White-Winged Dove

1571px White wnged Dove Zenaida asiatica RWD   Photo: Dick Daniels (http://carolinabirds.org/) If you step outside, you can probably hear this bird in a nearby tree, cooing softly. Or you might see it foraging on the ground, its head bobbing back and forth on its plump beige body. This is the white-winged dove (Zenaida asiatica). Its name tells you how to tell it apart from ot...

Where Do Viruses Come From?

Viruses gym web   Illustration: Nicole Elmer The origin of viruses is a hotly debated topic. It’s unclear how they first evolved. However, there are many ideas floating around out there. There are three classical hypotheses but many new ideas and discoveries challenging them. The first one is the virus first hypothesis, and states that since viruse...

BACKYARD BIODIVERSITY: Green Anoles

IMG 7475 web   Female Green Anole, looking a little brownish-green. (Photo: Travis Laduc) With more time than usual at our homes, and the weather not searing hot yet, it’s a great opportunity to get outside and become familiar with the species we have in our own backyards! The Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis) is a common lizard not difficu...