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Biodiversity Blog

 
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...
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...
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...
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 ...

All things creepy: parasitism pt 4, mite pockets

MiteMeetsLizard Photos: Wilfredor (iguana) and Alan R Walker (mite)- Creative Commons Pockets are pretty cool things. We put our belongings in them, warm our hands on cold days in them. Some lizards have them too, but they aren’t storing cell phones in them. Chiggers live in these pockets, although sometimes a tick finds its way in there too. Chiggers are...

Meet Stengl Wyer Scholar: Liming Cai

Cai web400x400Liming Cai is one of our 2021 Stengl-Wyer Scholars. She is a systematic biologist broadly interested in the study of phylogenetics and evolutionary genomics of plants. Her research integrates fieldwork, herbarium collections, and genomic analysis to characterize the patterns and drivers of biodiversity. As part of the Stengl Wyer Endowment, th...
A Case for Eels

A Case for Eels

 Hannah Chapman Tripp helps set the specimen jar. (Photo: Adam Cohen) The Life Science Library on the second floor of the Main Building is something to behold. With its high ceilings displaying quotations in gold paint, to the massive chandeliers, some have likened it to Hogwarts, the fictional British boarding school of magic in J.K. Rowli...
Saving Water Damaged Species

Saving Water Damaged Species

by Viv Shu (undergraduate Museum Studies Certificate student and Sustainability major) Living plants need water to survive, but dried museum specimens of plants are exactly the opposite! The Billie L. Turner Plant Resources Center houses more than 1,000,000 such herbarium specimens in the Main Building. This 85+ year-old landmark, also known as the...
Influential People of Biodiversity: Billie Turner

Influential People of Biodiversity: Billie Turner

Posing in 1970 with Perityle turneri (Asteraceae), one of many species named in Turner's honor. (Photo: Mike Powell) I first met Billie Turner in early 2016. That was when I’d started working on the Integrative Biology History project, and as Turner had a seven-decade career, I knew I had to interview him. With so much to cover, one meeting woul...
Sorting Fish

Sorting Fish

Those preserved specimens in natural history collections didn't get into their jars or drawers on their own. Quite a bit of work was involved, not only in the field, but also in the lab. This time lapse video from the Ichthyology Collection shows one of the first steps, sorting the specimens into jars.  
  And then...
Shrubs of BFL: Catclaw Acacia

Shrubs of BFL: Catclaw Acacia

This perennial shrub (Senegalia wrightii) grows 6-10 feet tall although some accounts say it can grow to triple this size. The lacey foliage is twice pinnately-compound and semi-evergreen. Pinnately-compound refers to a leaf that is divided into smaller leaflets and those leaflets are arranged along each side of the leaf's central stalk, or rachis....
Meet Stengl-Wyer Scholar: Chase Smith

Meet Stengl-Wyer Scholar: Chase Smith

As part of the new Stengl-Wyer Endowment, the Stengl Wyer Postdoctoral 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. Chase Smith is one of three scholars starting at UT this year. Chase's researc...
UT’s Non-Digital Biodiversity Specimens Join the Global Digital Revolution

UT’s Non-Digital Biodiversity Specimens Join the Global Digital Revolution

The prestigious journal BioScience just released "Natural History Collections: Advancing the Frontiers of Science," a compilation of recent natural history collection-related papers that sheds light on the importance of digitizing and publishing collections data, and the substantial obstacles confronting collections staff working on that. This come...

Trout of Mexico's Sierra Madre

Picture1   Young Dean, reading to go fishing with dad... Like many others I'm sure, I found that working from home facilitated catching up on housecleaning, etc. Picking away at the long-standing task of re-housing old family photos, I came across one of me heading out trout fishing with my Dad.  It got me reflecting on what a big role ...

Old Croone Day!

William Croone 1680  Croone as painted in 1680 by Mary Beale, one of the most prolific British portrait painters at the time. Got plans on June 4th? Looking for something to celebrate? Might think about Old Croone Day. While it’s not official, the day honors a man who gave us a lot when it comes to the modern natural history collection. Dr. William Croone (...

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...

Fish Collection Expands with TPWD

shelvesA quick overview of 15 years of UT Fish Collection growth and collaborations with Texas Parks and Wildlife by Dean A. Hendrickson, Adam E. Cohen, Gary P. Garrett   As stated in the Biodiversity Center’s Collections webpage, the challenges for our collections are to: 1) “document biodiversity,” 2) “understand how biological processes...

River Monsters, a Texas Edition

HoldingAsnapBy Adam Cohen, Collection Manager and Melissa Casarez, Assistant Collection Manager (Ichthyology Collection) We, in the fish collection, often find ourselves wading in deep, murky waters when out collecting around the state in creeks and rivers with steep banks and little chance for a quick escape, if necessary. During these times, we find it ...