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Biodiversity Blog

 

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: Slenderhead Darter (Percina phoxocephala)

Featured Species: Slenderhead Darter (Percina phoxocephala)

by Melissa Casarez and Adam Cohen (Ichthyology Collection)   Illustration: Joseph Tomelleri   The Slenderhead Darter occurs throughout the Mississippi River basin, and only exists in Texas in tributaries of the Red River.  It was first documented in TX in 1994 by UT biologists Laurie Dries and David Hillis in Sanders Creek, a...
Saving Water Damaged Species

Saving Water Damaged Species

by Viv Shu (undergraduate Museum Studies Certificate student and Sustainability major) Living plants need water to survive, but dried museum specimens of plants are exactly the opposite! The Billie L. Turner Plant Resources Center houses more than 1,000,000 such herbarium specimens in the Main Building. This 85+ year-old landmark, also known as the...
Meet Stengl-Wyer Fellow: Alex Nishida

Meet Stengl-Wyer Fellow: Alex Nishida

Alex isolating bacterial strains from the gut microbiomes of captive great apes. 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, f...
Linda Escobar 2021 Award Recipients Announced

Linda Escobar 2021 Award Recipients Announced

The Linda Escobar Award was established by family and friends to honor the memory of the late Linda Katherine Albert de Escobar (1940–1993), a botanist, educator, and alumna of the UT Plant Biology program whose research centered on the systematics of the genus Passiflora, the widespread and taxonomically diverse plant genus that includes the culti...
Influential People of Biodiversity: Billie Turner

Influential People of Biodiversity: Billie Turner

Posing in 1970 with Perityle turneri (Asteraceae), one of many species named in Turner's honor. (Photo: Mike Powell) I first met Billie Turner in early 2016. That was when I’d started working on the Integrative Biology History project, and as Turner had a seven-decade career, I knew I had to interview him. With so much to cover, one meeting woul...
Sorting Fish

Sorting Fish

Those preserved specimens in natural history collections didn't get into their jars or drawers on their own. Quite a bit of work was involved, not only in the field, but also in the lab. This time lapse video from the Ichthyology Collection shows one of the first steps, sorting the specimens into jars.  
  And then...
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...

Meet Stengl-Wyer Fellow: Julia York

yorkweb About to dissect a Harpagifer antarctius specimen for a transcriptome study (Photo Lloyd Peck) 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 $34,0...
From the FRI Field: Deciphering Differences for Biodiversity

From the FRI Field: Deciphering Differences for Biodiversity

 Eleutherodactylus dilatus (Photo: Tom Devitt) The Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) at UT gives first-year students the opportunity to initiate and engage in real-world research experience with faculty and graduate students. Several students in the Biodiversity Discovery program this past fall semester have shared their research experienc...
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...
Kinsey's Wasps

Kinsey's Wasps

  A 1953 issue of TIME magazine had this to say about biologist and sexologist Dr. Alfred Kinsey: “Kinsey...has done for sex what Columbus did for geography.” Kinsey’s influential work on human sexuality happened at a time in the US when openly discussing, much less researching, what went on in the bedroom was quite shocking. Nonetheless, h...
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...

From the Jha Lab: Using Pollen to Solve Crime

BeePollen web A carpenter bee. Crime scenes are often the stuff of fascination for many, ripe for the various outputs of fiction. What might be somewhat less glamorous than many TV shows would suggest are some of the crime-solving tools available to forensic investigators. Enter forensic botany and palynology. Forensic botany is the science that connect...

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...

Discovering New Groundwater Invertebrates in Central Texas

Stygobromus sp. Eliza Spg webby Freshman Research Initiative students: Nicholas Hartman, Faith Miles, Antonio Rodriguez  amphipod, Stygobromus sp. (Photo: Tom Devitt) New species of animals evolve through speciation, a process whereby a lineage diverges into a new species. When these new species are first discovered, they are undescribed, meaning they have not be...