Brackenridge Field Lab’s national reputation—as a premiere site for research on invasive species, evolution and behavior, biodiversity, climate change and drought, as well as for education and outreach—was underscored with the lab’s inclusion in a report by the National Academy of Sciences on the critical role of field stations.
The report notes that field labs advance science research by:
- Enabling collection of long-term environmental data needed to understand current changes in ecosystems and climate; and
- Fostering collaborations and interdisciplinary research that sparks innovation and discovery.
One example cited in the report was work at BFL by scientists and students that led to a potential pest reduction for an invasive species. Students and other researchers demonstrated that parasitic flies that harass one species of red fire ant make that species less competitive with other ant species and thereby reduce their access to food. That insight led to an innovative way to control invasive fire ants: introduce parasitic phorid flies from South America.
Now the host-specific flies are established across millions of acres of Texas as a self-sustaining contribution to efforts to control fire ant populations. It's a welcome weapon in the war on a pest that's estimated to cost Texas alone more than $1.2 billion annually. The authors of the NAS report highlighted this work as an example of the powerful and unpredictable impact of basic research in a long-term field setting. Research that began at BFL and its satellite site, the Stengl Lost Pines Biological Station, have led to advances in land management, other invasive species control and even medical technology. Read more > >