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Biodiversity Blog

 

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...

What's in a Name? Texas Flowers

Picture1Commelina erecta flower. The genus name Commelina honors the three Commelin brothers. The specific name erecta refers to the erect form of the plant. Photo by David M. Hillis. Ever wonder how species get their scientific names? The scientist who describes a new species selects the name. As long as the name follows a few basic rules, and is uniqu...
The Father of Texas Botany

The Father of Texas Botany

   Ferdinand Lindheimer from Goethe im Lichte der Verebungslehre - 1908 Texas botany would not be what it is today if it weren’t for a German immigrant by the name of Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer. His name adorns many Texas plants and animals, and he is widely considered the “Father of Texas Botany.” Lindheimer (1801 – 1879) was a Germ...

Center Hosts Nature Photography Workshop

IMG 4124 2On May 18th and 19th, the Biodiversity Center hosted the Nature Photograhy Workshop at Stengl Lost Pines Biological Station. The workshop focused on everything from photography basics, to composition, lighting, and processing. About 40 miles outside of Austin, the location of Stengl was an ideal for photographers of nature as the field station comp...

CAMPUS BIODIVERSITY: Awesome Opossums

1100px Opossum 3   Virginia Opossum (Photo by Cody Pope) At night, the UT campus slows but never quite stops. Those out and about in the dark hours might witness some of the nocturnal creatures on campus, one being the only marsupial native to North America: the opossum. The opossum is of the order Didelphimorphia and is endemic to the Americas, the...

Biodiversity Day 2019

IMG 1838 George Yatskievych, Curator of the Billie L. Turner Plant Resource Center, speaks with a student Despite the smattering of rain and wind, campus and off-campus organizations partook in the annual Biodiversity Day near Gregory Gym on Wednesday, April 17th. This event was to spread awareness about sustainability, biodiversity, wellness, cli...

ULM fish specimens come to Biodiversity Collections

TulaneBy Adam Cohen, Melissa Casarez and Dean Hendrickson (Ichthyology Collection) Some of ULM's Texas holdings that are now at UT's Biodiversity Collections. Photo taken at Tulane prior to packing In spring of 2017, administrators at the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM, historically NLU – Northeastern Louisiana University) made the dec...

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...

A Rodeo of Insects

Rodeo 1By Jen Schlauch, Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Senior    Freshman Research Initiative students A large steel barn lay hidden from the February cold, framed in a banner of painted bluebonnets and the words, “Texas Wildlife Expo.” Within, javelinas, porcupines, and longhorn cattle shuffled in front of curious children and their ...

Explore UT 2019

IMG 7412     Photos: Alex Wild   Explore UT is an annual event that encourages students to become excited about higher education and the research opportunities at The University of Texas. And what better way to elicit curiosity than with rows of animal skulls and live snakes, spiders, and cockroaches? The UT Entomology Colle...

To Egg or Not to Egg: That is the Evolutionary Question

oviparity P.p.2   A young lizard crawls over the eggs of its brethren. (Photo: Yin Qi) The old riddle “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” is not much of a riddle to biologists. The shelled amniote egg, which is familiar to many of us as chicken eggs, evolved about 325 million years ago. The wild ancestors of chickens, in contrast, only appe...

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...

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 ...

Sprinting for Dung Beetles

i bTQbJc4 4KPhoto by Alex Wild. February 2nd was an unusually warm Saturday for winter, even in Central Texas. Many took the opportunity to work in the yard, exercise, lounge in the sun, but in Welsh Hall on campus, about 20 UT undergraduates were instead hovering over 3000 dung beetles. This was for an event called “Science Sprints,” one-day intensives tha...

New Lab Space Promotes Freshmen Research in Biodiversity

Students 01   Students in Biodiversity Discovery stream. With construction completed in 1933, Painter Hall has been around long enough to see plenty of renovations. One of the most recent is the addition of a brand-new lab space currently in use by students in the Biodiversity Discovery and Bugs in Bugs FRI (Freshmen Research Initiative) Stream...

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...

New Tree Frog Named After Biodiversity Center Professor

hillisi torrent frog pose 1024   Photo by Gustavo Pazmiño with BIOWEB Ecuador   Meet Hyloscirtus hillisi, a newly discovered species of Andean tree frog, named after our own Director of the Biodiversity Center: Dr. David Hillis. This frog was discovered by a team of researchers from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, led by biologist and UT doctora...

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...

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...