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Biodiversity Blog

 
The Value of the Billie L. Turner Plant Resources Center (PRC) for Teaching Plant Systematics

The Value of the Billie L. Turner Plant Resources Center (PRC) for Teaching Plant Systematics

Every fall semester the PRC Director, Dr. Robert K. Jansen, teaches an undergraduate course in Plant Systematics.  The course includes lectures, labs, field trips and student access to the dried plant specimens in the PRC.  The main focus of the labs/field trips is to introduce students to angiosperm families with an emphasis on those tha...
Towards a periodic table of niches or exploring the lizard niche hypervolume

Towards a periodic table of niches or exploring the lizard niche hypervolume

Authors: Eric R. Pianka, Laurie J. Vitt, Nicolás Pelegrin, Daniel B. Fitzgerald, and Kirk O. Winemiller Ecologists begin to construct a Periodic Table of Niches    Redsands study area in the Great Victoria Desert of Western Australia – 55 species of lizards, including the thorny devil Moloch horridus, occur in sympatry here.(Cre...
Featured Species - Pecos Pupfish (Cyprinodon pecosensis)

Featured Species - Pecos Pupfish (Cyprinodon pecosensis)

This species was once one of the most abundant fishes in the Pecos River, but is now restricted to Salt Creek in Texas and just a few locations in New Mexico due to hybridization with Sheepshead Minnow (C. variegatus) and groundwater pumping. As a result, it is classified as Threatened in Texas. It has a wide tolerance for physiochemical factors su...
Featured Species - Toothless Blindcat (Trogloglanis pattersoni)

Featured Species - Toothless Blindcat (Trogloglanis pattersoni)

  The Toothless Blindcat, Trogloglanis pattersoni, is one of two highly cave-adapted eyeless and depigmented catfishes known only from the deepest parts of the Edwards Aquifer under San Antonio, TX. Specimens from its humanly inaccessible habitat have come only from a few very deep city water wells near the area of the aquifer where salin...
Celebrating the Billie L. Turner Plant Resources Center

Celebrating the Billie L. Turner Plant Resources Center

The UT Austin Plant Resources Center is now called The Billie L. Turner Plant Resoruces Center. On the ocassion of the new name, several faculty members and prominent Texas botanists, including Dr. Turner himself, gathered to celebrate botanical research and kick off a new chapter in the history of the herbarium.  
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...
UT Insect Collection's "Insects Unlocked" Creates a Media Buzz

UT Insect Collection's "Insects Unlocked" Creates a Media Buzz

The UT Insect Collection's Insects Unlocked project caught the attention of international media this week with a pair of stories in The Guardian and WIRED: Alejandro Santillana's Bees Under the Microscope (The Guardian) The Entomologist Giving Bugs their Close-Up  (WIRED) Insects Unlocked is a crowd-funded initiative to create high...
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...
Students of Texas Lutheran University visit the Plant Resources Center

Students of Texas Lutheran University visit the Plant Resources Center

  We at the Plant Resources Center had the pleasure of receiving Dr. Alan Lievens' class from Texas Lutheran University to talk to them about The Plant Resources Center and the importance of Natural History collections. Students were very enthusiastic and learned about historical and ecological importance of specimens, and the history of the P...
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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...
Wildflowers of Texas: The pink evening primrose - Oenothera speciosa

Wildflowers of Texas: The pink evening primrose - Oenothera speciosa

The pink evening primrose is a native Texas favorite that is sown by the highway department in most parts of the state; either scattered or in great masses, it is an integral part of the spring roadside floral displays. A fairly small, generally sprawling plant, it is also quite happy in diverse other open habitats, including lawns. The flowers, wh...
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The Daily Species: Bumble Bee Fly (Laphria macquarti)

The Daily Species: Bumble Bee Fly (Laphria macquarti)

On the left is a bumble bee. On the right is... not a bumble bee. Laphria macquarti is one of the larger and more spectacular mimics of common bumble bees in the southeastern United States. These agile predatory insects are in the robber fly family Asilidae, and like most robber flies, they catch prey in mid-air. Their beelike appearance likely det...
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The Rough-stem Rosinweed - Silphium integrifolium var. asperrimum

The Rough-stem Rosinweed - Silphium integrifolium var. asperrimum

This rather tall sunflower is found primarily along streams on the Edwards Plateau and in north-central Texas. Although the leaves are sandpapery to the touch, they are relished by deer and other browsing wildlife. Flowering months: July and August. Photo: Dexter image collection, Plant Resources Center.Wildflowers of Texas project: http://www...
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Wildflowers of Texas: The angel trumpet, Datura Wrightii

Wildflowers of Texas: The angel trumpet, Datura Wrightii

A large white flower with a long tube is usually the telltale sign of a flower that blooms at night, since it is often adapted to pollination by long-tongued hawkmoths that only fly in the near-dark. Such is the case of the impressive (to about eight inches long) and beautiful flower of this species of jimsonweed. The fruit it produces is like a sp...
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Wildflowers of Texas: The prairie nymph, Herbertia lahue

Wildflowers of Texas: The prairie nymph, Herbertia lahue

This gorgeous flower makes a brief springtime appearance in Texas coastal prairies. It varies on color from blue to lavender. Flowering months: March, April, May. Photo: Dexter image collection, Plant Resources Center.Wildflowers of Texas project: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/exhibits/wildflowers/index.html
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The Daily Species: Lesser Siren (Siren intermedia)

The Daily Species: Lesser Siren (Siren intermedia)

The Lesser Siren (Siren intermedia) is a slender-bodied aquatic amphibian that spends its days burrowed in silt and debris at the bottom of slow waters. Sirens have a small pair of front legs but lack hind limbs, a loss thought to help them more easily swim through reeds and plants. During drought, they can secrete a protective mucus that cocoons t...
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The Daily Species: Western Ratsnake (Pantherophis obsoletus)

The Daily Species: Western Ratsnake (Pantherophis obsoletus)

The Western Ratsnake (Pantherophis obsoletus) is a non-venomous species commonly found across the eastern half of Texas. This species can be highly arboreal and is adaptable to a wide range of habitats.  Because of this versatility, they feed on a variety of prey (small mammals, birds, reptiles) that they kill by constriction. Ratsnakes are so...
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Focus on Biology - Science Imaging Contest 2017

Focus on Biology - Science Imaging Contest 2017

The Department of Integrative Biology is pleased to announce the second 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 and displayed during a Department of...
The Daily Species: Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

The Daily Species: Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

One of North America's most abundant butterflies, the pipevine swallowtail develops on the leaves of Aristolochia pipevine, sequestering the plant's potent toxins so as to remain poisonous to their own predators. The photographs of the hatching eggs (above) and adult butterfly (below) are public domain images created at UT ...
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