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Biodiversity Blog

 
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Diving Deep into Microbes

Diving Deep into Microbes

When you think of microbes, what are the first things that come to mind? Disease, pathogens, the same old boring things, but microbes are so much more than that! They produce the air that we breathe and the food that we eat. They live as high as our upper atmosphere and as low as the depths of the ocean, and everywhere in between. In this talk...
The Power of the Unseen Majority – How Soil Microbes Shape the Nature We See

The Power of the Unseen Majority – How Soil Microbes Shape the Nature We See

 Indeterminate nodules growing on the roots of Medicago italica (Photo: Ningatacoshell) Do you like mushrooms or beans? Have you heard of companion planting or intercropping? The common theme uniting these two seemingly unrelated questions is soil microbes. You have (likely) not seen them, but they are everywhere and play a crucial role in ...
Get involved! Outreach opportunities in biodiversity

Get involved! Outreach opportunities in biodiversity

Undergrad Abby Jones at the Capital Area Junior Master Naturalists October event. Field stations like Brackenridge Field Lab and natural history collections like the Biodiversity Collections fulfill many roles in the service of biodiversity. One such role is to engage in outreach to the general public to raise awareness, and to reach students wh...
Pets as Invasive Species: Birds, Feathered Friend or Foe?

Pets as Invasive Species: Birds, Feathered Friend or Foe?

 Monk Parakeet (Photo: Bernard Dupont-Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license) Birds are another beloved pet, adored for their plumage, their song, and for their interesting behavior. My own parakeets, Ernesto and Clyde, never fail to amuse with their head bobbing and love of stick-chewing. But like many pets that end u...
Stengl-Wyer Graduate Fellowships Now Open

Stengl-Wyer Graduate Fellowships Now Open

If you're a UT graduate student studying the diversity of life and organisms in their natural environments, then check out this fellowship program! The Stengl-Wyer Graduate Fellowship program is now open for applications, closing on December 12, at 5 p.m. Central Time. This fellowship includes a 12-month stipend of $36,000 beginning September 1, 20...
"I Like Big BATS and I Cannot Lie!"

"I Like Big BATS and I Cannot Lie!"

This month's Science Under the Stars event is "I Like Big BATS and I Cannot Lie!," presented by Brandi Christiano. Have you ever seen a bat flying around? Probably (especially in Austin)! With more than 1,400 species worldwide, bats live in almost every environment. As the only flying mammal, they can be found in caves, trees, and under bridges. So...
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...
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...
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...
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...
Meet Stengl-Wyer Scholar: Harry Siviter

Meet Stengl-Wyer Scholar: Harry Siviter

 Doing work in Senegal with baboons  Harry Siviter is one of our 2021 Stengl-Wyer Scholars and is researching how environmental factors contribute to bee decline. As part of the Stengl Wyer Endowment, the Stengl Wyer Postdoctoral Scholars Program provides up to three years of independent support for talented postdoctoral researche...

Citizen-Scientists Project at Stengl Lost Pines

image 1 web L to R: Kathy Cox, Susan Schroeder, Kathy McAleese, Megan Lowery, Nancy Rabensburg, Betty Henley, Carolyn Turman – Displaying newly mounted plant vouchers for the herbarium By Kathy McAleese It all started in the fall of 2018.  A group of friends were beginning a project to remove invasive and aggressive plants from an old pastur...
Edward Wilson's signature moment in the history of BFL

Edward Wilson's signature moment in the history of BFL

 E.O. Wilson in 2003 (Photo: Jim Harrison, Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license) Edward O. Wilson passed away on December 26th, 2021. He was a professor of biology at Harvard University with an incredible list of awards including two Pulitzer Prizes. He was a myrmecologist passionate about ants, and often consider...
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...