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Biodiversity Blog

 
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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 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 insects. As Texas warms, some of our local bees may start coming out earlier in the year, and the Biodiversi...
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...
Meet Stengl Wyer Fellow: Nick Ivers

Meet Stengl Wyer Fellow: Nick Ivers

 Setting trap nests to catch cavity nesting bees and wasps in the Edwards Plateau. Nick Ivers is one of our 2021 Stengl-Wyer Fellows. He is a is a PhD candidate in the lab of Dr. Shalene Jha where they work towards the conservation of native pollinators amid rapid habitat loss and degradation. As part of the Stengl Wyer Endowment,...
Applications open for the 2022 Stengl-Wyer Fellows Program

Applications open for the 2022 Stengl-Wyer Fellows Program

The College of Natural Sciences is pleased to announce that it is now accepting applications for the 2022 Stengl-Wyer Graduate Fellowship Competition. The Stengl-Wyer Graduate Fellowship funds doctoral candidates pursuing dissertation research on the diversity of life and organisms in their natural environments, across many disciplines wi...
Applications open for 2022 Stengl-Wyer Scholars Program

Applications open for 2022 Stengl-Wyer Scholars Program

The College of Natural Sciences is pleased to announce that it is now accepting applications for the 2022 Stengl-Wyer Scholars Competition! Recent Ph.D.s are invited to apply for distinguished postdoctoral positions to study the diversity of life and/or organisms in their natural environments at The University of Texas at Austin (UT), one...
Shrubs of BFL: Texas lantana

Shrubs of BFL: Texas lantana

Photos: Larry Gilbert   This ubiquitous native low shrub is hard to miss. Part of the verbena family, those red, orange, and yellow blooms appear when the weather in Central Texas becomes close to unbearable. The scientific name is Lantanta urticoides, however it often gets confused with Lantana horrida, the name inspired by its strong odor...
Pets as Invasive Species, an Introduction

Pets as Invasive Species, an Introduction

Lucy (back) and Olive (front), two out of three of the author's feline invasive species. Humans have pets for lots of reasons. Companionship, protection, admiration of the animal’s beauty, an excuse to get outside for a walk. As much as we don’t want to hear it, our beloved Fido or Snowball, when mismanaged, can become invasive and threaten biod...
Mowing with Purpose: Managing Invasive Grasses at BFL

Mowing with Purpose: Managing Invasive Grasses at BFL

by Jason Lawson, Field Station Research Engineering/Scientist Associate Susie’s Meadow: a favorite landmark at BFL and one of the areas currently undergoing treatment for invasive grasses. The bucolic image of undulating grass fields in a summer breeze looks and feels uniquely Texan. It seems almost unbelievable that so many grasses t...

The Power of Switchgrass: a Chat with Tom Juenger

BFL webDrought experiments with switchgrass using the rainout shelters in the Experimental Garden at BFL. As a field station near the heart of Austin, Brackenridge Field Lab hosts important research by many UT faculty. Amongst them is Dr. Tom Juenger in the Department of Integrative Biology. He studies ecological and evolutionary genetics of local adap...
Featured Species: Clown Beetle

Featured Species: Clown Beetle

  Clown beetles, also known as Hister beetles, are a family (Histeridae) that contains over 3900 species. Their unusually glossy-but-sculptured surfaces and spiny appendages make them sought after by some collectors. They are found throughout the world, but not terribly common in Central Texas, which is why when Dr. Alex Wild, Curator ...
The Power of Poop

The Power of Poop

We all know poop. When it comes to plants, we might think of poop as the manure that gives our yards and crops a little pep and vigor. But poop is also one of the many ways plants propagate. Plants need a little help getting their offspring out into the world. They’ve evolved many methods to do that, and providing a nutritional bit of food to a pas...
Meet Lepidopterist Alma Solis

Meet Lepidopterist Alma Solis

Alma outside the lab at Rancho del Cielo Biological Station during her Master’s research there. Dr. Alma Solis is a research entomologist at the Systematic Entomology Laboratory (SEL) of the Agricultural Research Service (U.S. Department of Agriculture) and is located at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonia...
It got really cold. What does that mean for Texas biodiversity?

It got really cold. What does that mean for Texas biodiversity?

The February winter storm “Uri” saw temperatures drop into the single digits and stay below freezing for days. The last time Austin had single digit temperatures was in 1989, the year the Berlin wall fell, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade came out, and Taylor Swift was born. So, yeah. It’s been a while. Uri not only caused havoc for Texans and ou...

History of UT Herpetology, Part 1: The Early Decades

SpotTheLizard Look close! There's a Texas Spiny Lizard there. (Photo from Field Studies of the Behavior of the Lizard Sceloporus spinosus floridanus) When UT became an official university in 1883, a biology program, much less a Herpetology Collection, was not on the agenda. It didn’t mean there were not some advocates pushing for physiology and botany c...
UT Spring Bee Competition

UT Spring Bee Competition

 USDA Photo by Jack Dykinga We have a winner! Katie Elston is the winner of the UT Spring Bee competition. This competition was for submitting the first Travis County mason bee of 2021 to win a copy of the book “The Bees In Your Backyard”! Rationale: One measure of our changing climate is the shifting dates of emergence of our earliest spri...
Meet Stengl-Wyer Fellow: Colin Morrison

Meet Stengl-Wyer Fellow: Colin Morrison

The Stengl-Wyer Endowment supports year-long fellowships for doctoral candidates pursuing dissertation research in the area of Diversity of life and organisms in their natural environments. Recipients will receive a 12-month stipend of $34,000, full tuition and fees, staff health insurance, and an allowance of $2,000 to cover research and trav...

History of UT Entomology, Part 5: Sword's Grasshoppers

BFL grasshopper   Schistocerca lineata In our last blog on the History of UT Entomology, we looked at the damage screwworm flies were causing to livestock until the Sterile Insect Technique was introduced. In this blog, we will be looking at another infamous insect responsible for massive damage to resources such as crops. We begin with some of the...

Brr...It’s Chilly Out There: How Animals Deal With the Cold

736px Eptesicus nilssonii hibernating Northern Bat (Eptesicus nilssonii), a hibernating bat species. Photo: Magne Flåten, GNU Free Documentation License Cold weather brings big shifts in nature. In many places, water sources freeze, plants cease blooming and drop their leaves, and the ground is covered in snow. These conditions mean diminished resources for animals, ...