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Biodiversity Blog

 

The Dam that Broke: Some Prehistory that Helps Explains How BFL Came to Exist

PowerHouseAndDamVia a talk given by Dr. Larry Gilbert at BFL, September 2019 Brackenridge Field Laboratory is an 82 acre biological research site that is part of a nearly 400 acre land tract. It’s a site of rich biodiversity and an excellent area of research and outreach. Before it became the BFL, however, it was once something quite different with a very differen...

Invasives make a splash at the Creek Show

creekby Joe Matza, Texas Applied Arts Creek Monster Habitat student Well, Halloween is officially over, and with that comes the official start of the holiday season. While the holidays ramp up, and the weather cools down, there are some yearly occurrences happening throughout Austin that are not to be missed. One such event is the Waterloo Greenways Cre...

The Trees of BFL: Chinaberry (Melia azedarach)

Screen Shot 2019 09 04 at 08.59.00  The Chinaberry tree actually has many common names, some being bead-tree, Persian lilac, and Pride of India. This is a fast-growing deciduous tree that is part of the mahogany family and native to Southeastern China. It reaches 30 to 50 feet in height. The flowers are fragrant, small, and pink to light purple in color. The fruit is about ...

The Trees of BFL: Sugarberry (Celtis laevigata)

Screen Shot 2019 09 04 at 08.58.36    The sugar hackberry or sugarberry (Celtis laevigata) is a very common tree species at Brackenridge Field Lab. The tree has distinctive warty, gray bark, sometimes turning tan in very old individuals. The leaves have asymmetrical bases, are tapered with sharply pointed tips, and smooth or toothed margins. These trees grow quite ta...

Flight of the Cockroach

Attaphila   The Atta roach in a fungus garden. (Photo: Alex Wild) A moonless springtime night at Brackenridge Field Lab. The sun will rise shortly. The Texas leaf-cutter ants (Atta texana) have started their nuptial flights as the winged virgin females and much smaller males fly about. Some of the queens are not alone in their journeys howeve...

Playing With Fire: Ant-Agonists

ants  CLICK ON IMAGE TO PLAY VIDEO. Biodiversity Collections, specifically the Entomology Collection team, are collaborating with researchers from UT's Brackenridge Field Laboratory, University of Georgia, and more to produce a series of SciComm videos that aim to expose people to the decades of research that have gone into what we know abo...

Announcing the annual Focus on Biology science imaging contest

Focust 2019 banner    The Biodiversity Center and the Department of Integrative Biology is pleased to announce the annual Focus on Biology science imaging contest! Focus on Biology celebrates visual explorations of our research in the form of photographs, micrographs, figures, and illustrations. Contest winners and honorable mentions will be printed ...

Fall Colors at the Brackenridge Field Lab

BFL Flame Sumac Rhus lanceolata webFall is here in Central Texas, announcing its arrival through color. This time of seasonal change is a particularly vibrant time at Brackenridge Field Lab. Splashes of vivid yellow and red appear when Flame Sumac, Spanish Oak and Cedar Elm trees prepare to shed their leaves. But why do trees do this?  These new hues arise as trees begin breaki...

Playing With Fire

Ants Click on image to play video. Biodiversity Collections, specifically the Entomology Collection team, are collaborating with researchers from UT's Brackenridge Field Laboratory, University of Georgia, and more to produce a series of SciComm videos that aim to expose people to the decades of research that have gone into what we know about o...

Biodiversity Center Sponsors Freshman Research Initiative Course

IMG 3677   Biodiversity Discovery FRI Students Christiana Peek, Evan Samsky, Hannah Gilbreath, Thomas Johnston and Ari Nehrbass prepare to sample vegetation at BFL (Photo: Alejandro Santillana) By Nicole Elmer and Dr. Susan Devitt The Freshman Research Initiative is a pioneering program allowing first-year students chances for hands-on resea...

Fire Ants and their Phorid Fly Foes: Brackenridge Field Lab and Biodiversity Collections Engage Visitors at UT Explore 2018

 Rob Plowes, Research Scientist at BFL, speaks with a young student
 Rob Plowes, Research Scientist at BFL, speaks with a young student (Photo courtesy Alejandro Santillana Ferna)

UT Explore was held on Saturday March 3rd, drawing a large crowd of families, students, and teachers. The annual event seeks to encourage community interest in research and higher education, and the important impact UT has on Austin and the world at large.

The Terrifying Science Behind Floating Fire Ant Colonies

The Terrifying Science Behind Floating Fire Ant Colonies

Hurricane Harvey has revealed its magnitude through devastating floods and damages, and now it has introduced another scourge -- giant clusters of floating fire ants.  UT researchers Alex Wild and Larry Gilbert were featured in the New York Times and Washington Post, among other outlets, sharing the science behi...
New Freshman Research Stream on Fish Behavior

New Freshman Research Stream on Fish Behavior

One of the newest streams in the Freshman Research Initiative is in the lab of BFL-affiliated scientist Molly Cummings. Undergraduate researchers will explore Fish Behavior and work to understand (1) whether learning capabilities vary predictably between species with different types of social interactions; and (2) if there is a relationship be...
BFL continues work with Drought-Net

BFL continues work with Drought-Net

We're beginning our second year of work with Drought-Net, a global collaboration to examine community sensitivity to drought. Droughts are expected to not only become more common but also more severe as a result of climate change. By comparing the plant communities under rainout shelters with those outside them, we can get an idea of how vegetation...
BFL is proud to host Science Under the Stars

BFL is proud to host Science Under the Stars

Starlight twinkles through the trees and crickets serenade in the distance as families, students and others with a thirst for knowledge gather outside at The University of Texas at Austin's Brackenridge Field Laboratory (BFL) for another evening of Science Under the Stars. The free, monthly public lecture series was founded and is run completely by...
A new microsporidian is the first described pathogen of tawny crazy ants

A new microsporidian is the first described pathogen of tawny crazy ants

A new study describing the first pathogen to be found in tawny crazy ants has been published by the Invasive Species Research group at BFL and is co-authored by USDA scientists. This is an important discovery given the national prominence and attention of these invasive ants. The pathogen is a new genus of microsporidian parasites that infects the ...
National Report Highlights Brackenridge Field Lab

National Report Highlights Brackenridge Field Lab

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.   Th...