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Biodiversity Blog

 

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...

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...

CAMPUS BIODIVERSITY: Urban Orchids

Corallorhiza wisteriana patch  For the observant visitor to the UT-Austin campus, the 40 Acres sometimes reveal botanical treasures.  For example, not many local inhabitants are aware that the campus harbors native wild orchids. In recent weeks, the spring coral root orchids, Corallorhiza wisteriana have been experiencing an exceptionally good bloom.  Corallo...

CAMPUS BIODIVERSITY: Cedar Waxwings, the Beautiful Visitors.

cedarbird   photo by Jacob McGinnis Our campus is home to lots of different birds that are impossible to miss: an inky black grackle flying dangerously close overhead, a chubby pigeon picking at a crust of pizza. But with winter upon UT, we also have another visitor: the Cedar Waxwings. These are strikingly beautiful birds that are less obvi...

CAMPUS BIODIVERSITY: Western Mosquitofish

Illustration-female     Gambusia affinis, female. (Illustrations by Joseph Tomelleri)  Male.   If you visit the turtle pond on campus, you might notice the turtles have quite a few tiny fish neighbors. Some of these are silvery-grey fish called by their common name of “Western Mosquitofish” or just “mosquitofish.” This is the species Ga...

CAMPUS BIODIVERSITY: Grackles Here, Grackles There, Grackles Everywhere!

Great tailed Grackle web   Great-tailed grackle, male. (Photo: Becky Matsubara) If you pair the words “Austin” and “bird,” you get “grackle.” But these rambunctious omnipresent birds have an expanding breeding range, and have been around long before Texas was even a state. Austin, for better or for worse, cannot really claim them as our own. Grackle is...

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...

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 ...

CAMPUS BIODIVERSITY: Mesquite

mesquite blog   An old mesquite on east side of MAI, near WCH If you were a student at UT when the university was founded in 1883, you might have ridden a horse-drawn carriage by quite a few mesquite to get to class. Gradually with campus expansion, mesquite became fewer in number. Now only a few remain on campus. One of the oldest Prosopis indiv...

CAMPUS BIODIVERSITY: Blue Jays

Bluejay Cyanocitta cristata 1547 Relic38   Photo: Darren Swim Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata) on campus are hard to miss. With their striking colors and shrill calls, in addition to their assertive behavior, they are one of the more attention-getting birds at UT. The genus name Cyanocitta derives from the Greek words 'kyaneos,' 'kitta,' and 'kissa'. ‘Kyaneos’ mean blue, a...

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 ...