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Biodiversity Blog

 

Trees of BFL: Cottonwoods and Willows

Summary cottonwood  Cottonwood trees and willows are similar in many ways. They germinate through wind dispersion and colonize moist muddy areas exposed to full sun. Both are present in Brackenridge Field Lab, and the cottonwoods in particular have a close connection to the history of the field lab. COTTONWOODS Cottonwoods (Populus deltoides) are one of the ...

The Texas Trout

CutthroatToday the only member of the family Salmonidae (trout, salmon and their relatives) that occurs in Texas is the non-native Rainbow Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss. That species is widely stocked around the state and there is one permanent population in McKittrick Creek, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, where it was introduced in the early 1900s. However...

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 ...

PART 1: Reflections on Isolation from the Middle of the Pacific Ocean

pic2by Ryan Rash   View of Johnston as we were first arriving.  I was a volunteer and then research assistant at the Biodiversity Center’s Ichthyology Collection for a couple years, but moved to the Central Pacific to work and live for 6 months on Johnston Atoll, a one-square-mile island National Wildlife Refuge with a total human pop...

CAMPUS BIODIVERSITY: Northern Mockingbirds

bird m   Photo: Kathryn Gatliff The Northern Mockingbird is probably one of the easiest birds to identify, if not by their bold maneuvers to protect their territory, then certainly by their characteristic song. In fact, their scientific name Mimus polyglottos is based entirely on their vocal natures: “mimus” is Latin for mimic and “polyglo...

CAMPUS BIODIVERSITY: Pigeons

19786421550 79acb30c66 b   Photo by Jaime Silva (via Flickr) Pigeons are so ubiquitous, searching our sidewalks and streets for anything edible, perched overhead on powerlines and building ledges, we don’t really give them much thought. In fact, pigeons get a pretty bad rap sometimes, are written off as nothing more than “rats with wings.” However, they are...

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 ...

CAMPUS BIODIVERSITY: Batty about Bats!

Tadarida head for website   Mexican free-tailed bat (Photo: Tigga Kingston) It’s October. The weather cools. People plan their Halloween costumes. Images of ghosts, vampires and other monsters start to fill our neighbors’ lawns or grocery store candy isles. Without a doubt, bats will be part of this montage, but do they deserve the association with scar...

CAMPUS BIODIVERSITY: Gulf Coast Toad (Bufo valliceps)

Incilius nebulifer DRD 5406 1     Bufo valliceps. (Photo: Drew Davis)   While it might be easy to assume we don’t have toads on campus, the Gulf Coast Toad (Bufo valliceps) is one species that does live here. Waller Creek is a one place to see them, in addition to planters where they hide, or on sidewalks at twilight to consume the insects that are att...

FEATURED SPECIES: Rio Grande Chub (Gila pandora)

Gpandora   Illustration by Joseph R. Tomelleri   The only member of this minnow genus known from Texas, the Río Grande Chub, Gila pandora (Cope, 1872), lives in about a dozen sites in Río Grande tributaries of New México, and Colorado, and in one highly isolated, one mile-long section of a small stream in the Davis Mountains o...

Revisiting Science History: John Edmonstone

guiana   1798 map of colony (from: Demerara & Essequibo) Great scientists don’t become great on their own. They have sources of support and inspiration from people who are often overlooked and uncredited for their contributions. One such individual almost lost to history is John Edmonstone, a freed slave who many historians feel was hu...

New Lab Space Promotes Freshmen Research in Biodiversity

Students 01   Students in Biodiversity Discovery stream. With construction completed in 1933, Painter Hall has been around long enough to see plenty of renovations. One of the most recent is the addition of a brand-new lab space currently in use by students in the Biodiversity Discovery and Bugs in Bugs FRI (Freshmen Research Initiative) Stream...

CAMPUS BIODIVERSITY: Oak Gall Wasps

Oak Gall  You might have seen them. Pink or dry grey spheres hanging on a branch of a live oak tree. Curious, you might have picked at the thing, thought it was just some strange tree growth, then tossed it aside. But this little sphere is the larval stage home to an insect that has an amazing and complex life cycle: the Oak Gall Wasp, or Disholcas...

Fish Collection Finishes Survey of the Little River

mapby Adam Cohen, Melissa Casarez, and Ryan Rash Figure adapted from Dennis Rose's thesis showing the major streams in the Little River Basin. Staff from the Biodiversity Center’s fish collection (home of the Fishes of Texas Project) recently teamed up with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s River Studies Program (TPWD) &n...

Fall for Falcons

TowerGirlPeregrine Falcons are one of the most widely-distributed species in the world, found on every continent with the exception of Antarctica. With autumn in swing, some Peregrine Falcons are migrating to their wintering areas. There are three subspecies of Peregrine Falcons within North America. Found in the Arctic tundra is Falco peregrinus tundrius. ...

The Robb Butterfly Collection

R11 web  Stacks of thin wood display cases fill an overflow room in the Biodiversity Center’s Entomology Collection. The cases contain 10,000 specimens of butterflies gathered from all over the world, starting in the 1970s. They are the Robb butterfly collection UT acquired in the winter of 2017, now being reorganized and queued for incorporation ...

New Grant Funding for the UT Herbaria

Sarracenia alata web  Herbarium specimen of Sarracenia alata, a species of pitcher plant also known as yellow trumpets.  This unusual species grows in nutrient poor, acidic wetlands from eastern Texas through the Gulf Coastal Plain to westernmost Florida. Natural history museums and other biodiversity collections hold millions of historically and scie...

CAMPUS BIODIVERSITY: Fox Squirrels

Squirrel vs mesquite web   Fox squirrel vs. mesquite: this one is girdling a mesquite for lunch. (Photo: Dr. Larry Gilbert) The fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) has made quite a comfortable existence for itself on the UT Austin campus. In trees, bushes, trashcans, or coming to beg for a bite of your lunch, it’s hard to miss these furry little mammals. Commonly ...

FEATURED SPECIES: Hogchoker (Trinectes maculatus)

hogchokerby Dr. F. Douglas Martin The Hogchoker is a small flatfish found in bays and estuaries but often spends extended time in rivers feeding on worms and insect larvae in soft mud bottoms.  They get their common name because East Coast fishermen would feed these so-called "trash" fish to their hogs, after which the fish would bow its body into a su...

CAMPUS BIODIVERSITY: the Horse Apple Tree, or Maculra pomifera

HorseApple tree ver02  Maculra pomifera (Photo: Larry Gilbert) by Dr. Larry Gilbert, (Professor, Department of Integrative Biology) One of the few trees of the original forest on UT’s main campus is a huge Maclura pomifera, also known as “Osage orange” or “horse apple.” A male tree of this species grows in front of Welch Hall. Other members of the family ...