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Biodiversity Blog

 

Science Under the Stars is back with new hybrid format

SUS Feb2022The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed our lives. One thing that will probably never go away, for better or for worse, are remote meetings and online classes. But as some events begin to open up, the online formats are offering both in-person and remote experiences, thus opening access to audiences who could not have seen them otherwise. One of ...
What the Heck is a Lichen?

What the Heck is a Lichen?

 Cladonia parasitica, a lichen at Stengl Lost Pines (Photo: Liz Bowman) When my sister and I were little, my parents often took us camping in Colorado during the summers. We brought our Barbie dolls and when evening came around, we built pretend campfires and served pretend food. Part of those imaginative meals included lichen fragments we’...
Darwin Day Coming Your Way

Darwin Day Coming Your Way

Don't look so sad, Mr. D! You can have your cake and eat it too! Happy birthday, Mr. Charles Darwin! You would be 213 tomorrow, February 12, 2022. That would be a lot of candles on a very large cake, and take quite a set of lungs to blow them out. Darwin Day asks people to “reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual cu...
Meet Stengl-Wyer Scholar: Harry Siviter

Meet Stengl-Wyer Scholar: Harry Siviter

 Doing work in Senegal with baboons  Harry Siviter is one of our 2021 Stengl-Wyer Scholars and is researching how environmental factors contribute to bee decline. As part of the Stengl Wyer Endowment, the Stengl Wyer Postdoctoral Scholars Program provides up to three years of independent support for talented postdoctoral researche...

Citizen-Scientists Project at Stengl Lost Pines

image 1 web L to R: Kathy Cox, Susan Schroeder, Kathy McAleese, Megan Lowery, Nancy Rabensburg, Betty Henley, Carolyn Turman – Displaying newly mounted plant vouchers for the herbarium By Kathy McAleese It all started in the fall of 2018.  A group of friends were beginning a project to remove invasive and aggressive plants from an old pastur...
Edward Wilson's signature moment in the history of BFL

Edward Wilson's signature moment in the history of BFL

 E.O. Wilson in 2003 (Photo: Jim Harrison, Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license) Edward O. Wilson passed away on December 26th, 2021. He was a professor of biology at Harvard University with an incredible list of awards including two Pulitzer Prizes. He was a myrmecologist passionate about ants, and often consider...
Pets as Invasive Species: Cats

Pets as Invasive Species: Cats

 Cute but deadly. Author's cat, Hazel, poses in the sun. It’s not often an invasive species is crowned as ruler of the internet. That title goes to cats. From chatrooms with “Meowspeak,” to I Can Haz Cheezeburger, to Grumpy Cat (R.I.P), it’s funny to imagine fire ants or zebra mussels ever getting adorable memes made about them. With cats, ...
UT Spring 2022 Bee Competition

UT Spring 2022 Bee Competition

 USDA Photo by Jack Dykinga The winner of this year's contest is Paige Durant! Click here to learn how she found this season's bees. Bring us the first Travis County mason bee of 2022, you’ll win a native Osmia bee house! Rationale: One measure of our changing climate is the shifting dates of emergence of our earliest spring flowers and in...
Meet Stengl-Wyer Fellow: David Ledesma

Meet Stengl-Wyer Fellow: David Ledesma

David Ledesma is one of our 2021 Stengl-Wyer Fellows. With his advisor Dr. Melissa Kemp, he studies the responses of herpetofauna (non-avian reptiles and amphibians) to environmental changes, and the long-term responses of herpetofauna over the last 21,000 years. As part of the Stengl Wyer Endowment, the Stengl Wyer Fellows Program supports ye...
What We Talk About When We Talk About Snakes

What We Talk About When We Talk About Snakes

What comes to mind when you imagine a snake? A rattler hissing and shaking its tail, ready to strike? A coral snake and the common identification rhyme “Red touches black, venom lack. Red touches yellow, kill a fellow”? Do you coil (pun intended) in fear? You’re not alone. Fear of snakes ranks in the top phobias for adults. This fear is called “oph...
Stengl-Wyer REU Program: supporting undergraduates in the natural sciences

Stengl-Wyer REU Program: supporting undergraduates in the natural sciences

 Jenifer Dubon (left) and Jaylin Knight (right) The Stengl-Wyer Endowment is the largest endowment in the history of the College of Natural Sciences. It supports UT Austin’s programming in ecology and biological research, with a focus on the study of the diversity of life and interactions between living things and their natural environments...
Meet Stengl Wyer Fellow: Nick Ivers

Meet Stengl Wyer Fellow: Nick Ivers

 Setting trap nests to catch cavity nesting bees and wasps in the Edwards Plateau. Nick Ivers is one of our 2021 Stengl-Wyer Fellows. He is a is a PhD candidate in the lab of Dr. Shalene Jha where they work towards the conservation of native pollinators amid rapid habitat loss and degradation. As part of the Stengl Wyer Endowment,...
Eel. It's what's for (Thanksgiving) dinner.

Eel. It's what's for (Thanksgiving) dinner.

 Illustration: Nicole Elmer Ah, Thanksgiving. We visit family, for better or for worse, slave for hours in the kitchen, gorge ourselves on football, and gather around a table to feast on a big fat roasted...eel? Historians agree that the very first Thanksgiving dinners had not only the ubiquitous turkey, but other fowl, venison, and yes, ee...
Applications open for the 2022 Stengl-Wyer Fellows Program

Applications open for the 2022 Stengl-Wyer Fellows Program

The College of Natural Sciences is pleased to announce that it is now accepting applications for the 2022 Stengl-Wyer Graduate Fellowship Competition. The Stengl-Wyer Graduate Fellowship funds doctoral candidates pursuing dissertation research on the diversity of life and organisms in their natural environments, across many disciplines wi...
History of UT Herpetology, Part 3: Eric Pianka, the "Lizard Man"

History of UT Herpetology, Part 3: Eric Pianka, the "Lizard Man"

 Pianka in his office. Eric Pianka hasn’t earned the nickname “Lizard Man” for nothing. His lifelong work with lizards started as a childhood fascination for them, and eventually made him one of the world authorities on lizard ecology. But with 150 publications and a career spanning over half a century at UT, maybe Pianka should have a few ...
Applications open for 2022 Stengl-Wyer Scholars Program

Applications open for 2022 Stengl-Wyer Scholars Program

The College of Natural Sciences is pleased to announce that it is now accepting applications for the 2022 Stengl-Wyer Scholars Competition! Recent Ph.D.s are invited to apply for distinguished postdoctoral positions to study the diversity of life and/or organisms in their natural environments at The University of Texas at Austin (UT), one...

All things creepy: parasitism pt 5, crypt keepers

Euderus setThe crypt keeper (Photo from paper by Scott P. Egan, Kelly L. Weinersmith, Sean Liu, Ryan D. Ridenbaugh, Y. Miles Zhang, Andrew A. Forbes. Creative Commons.) Talk about a nightmare of a roommate. Imagine yourself to be a larvae of gall wasp, the species Bassettia pallida more specifically. You are inside the gall of an oak tree, a gall that...

All things creepy: parasitism pt 4, mite pockets

MiteMeetsLizard Photos: Wilfredor (iguana) and Alan R Walker (mite)- Creative Commons Pockets are pretty cool things. We put our belongings in them, warm our hands on cold days in them. Some lizards have them too, but they aren’t storing cell phones in them. Chiggers live in these pockets, although sometimes a tick finds its way in there too. Chiggers are...
All things creepy: parasitism pt 3, the tongue biters

All things creepy: parasitism pt 3, the tongue biters

Peek a boo! (Photo: Elkin Fricke, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International) Cat got your tongue? Not in this case. Something else does. Meet the “tongue biters,” Cymothoa exigua, a species of parasitic isopods in the family Cymothoidae. These things range in size from 0.3-1.1 inches in length for the females, and...
All things creepy: parasitism pt 2, the corpse lily

All things creepy: parasitism pt 2, the corpse lily

Photo: Henrik Ishihara Globaljuggler (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported) Next in our parasitism series is the flowering plant in the parasitic genus Rafflesia, also known by the evocative names of the “corpse lily” or “carrion flower.” Why does it deserve our attention in the Halloween series? Because it t...