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From the College of Natural Sciences
Frogs Illustrate the Creative Destruction of Mass Extinctions

Frogs Illustrate the Creative Destruction of Mass Extinctions

A tree frog (genus Boophis) found on Madagascar and Mayotte Island, off the Southeast coast of Africa. Credit: Brian Freiermuth/Univ. of Florida

Until now, biologists have struggled to reconstruct an accurate family tree for frogs. Based on fossils and limited genetic data, it appeared that most modern frog species popped up at a slow and steady pace from about 150 million to 66 million years ago. New research shows that a mass extinction 66 million years ago sparked an explosion of new frog species.

Biologist Earns Career Award from Humboldt Foundation

Biologist Earns Career Award from Humboldt Foundation

The Humboldt Foundation has chosen UT Austin professor of integrative biology Mathew Leibold to receive the Humboldt Research Award in recognition of his lifetime achievements in research. The award is valued at around $70,000.

Nancy Moran awarded the 2017 Molecular Ecology Prize

Nancy Moran awarded the 2017 Molecular Ecology Prize

The Editorial Board of the journal Molecular Ecology has selected Professor Nancy Moran of The University of Texas at Austin for its 2017 Molecular Ecology Prize.  The Prize recognizes "an outstanding scientist who has made significant contributions to Molecular Ecology," as selected by an independent award committee.

Outnumbered and on Others’ Turf, Misfits Sometimes Thrive

Outnumbered and on Others’ Turf, Misfits Sometimes Thrive

Two male sticklebacks of the same age—one from a stream (top) and one from a lake (bottom)—are each highly adapted to their own local environment. According to Bolnick, apart from a dramatic difference in size, the fish also differ in immune traits, body shape, armor to defend against predators, and “basically anything we can think to measure.” Photo credit: Daniel Berner.

It's hard being a misfit: say, a Yankees fan in a room full of Red Sox fans or a vegetarian at a barbecue joint. Evolutionary biologists have long assumed that's pretty much how things work in nature too. Animals that wander into alien environments, surrounded by better-adapted locals, will struggle. But a team of researchers from The University of Texas at Austin was surprised to find that sometimes, misfits can thrive among their much more numerous native cousins.

Historical Rainfall Levels Key in Carbon Emissions from Soil

Historical Rainfall Levels Key in Carbon Emissions from Soil

Scientists have known that microbes living in the ground can play a major role in producing atmospheric carbon that can accelerate climate change, but now researchers from The University of Texas at Austin have discovered that soil microbes from historically wetter sites are more sensitive to moisture and emit significantly more carbon than microbes from historically drier regions.

Computer Model Developed to Assess Risk of a Zika Epidemic in Real-time

Computer Model Developed to Assess Risk of a Zika Epidemic in Real-time

The probability that two cases of Zika in a Texas county will snowball into an epidemic. White and gray counties have no or almost no chance of spawning an epidemic; dark red counties have more than a 75% chance of spawning an epidemic.

A new model for assessing real-time risk of a Zika virus epidemic in the United States is described in research published in the open access journal BMC Infectious Diseases. The computer simulation, based on data from Texas including population dynamics, historical infection rates, socioeconomics, and mosquito density, is designed to help policymakers gauge the underlying epidemic threat as cases first appear in US cities.

Biologist Wins Lieberman Award

Biologist Wins Lieberman Award

Professor of integrative biology Lauren Meyers recently accepted the Center for Excellence in Education's (CEE) Joseph I. Lieberman Award for Excellence in Science and Technology.

Social Bees Have Kept Their Gut Microbes for 80 Million Years

Social Bees Have Kept Their Gut Microbes for 80 Million Years

About 80 million years ago, a group of bees began exhibiting social behavior, which includes raising young together, sharing food resources and defending their colony. Today, their descendants—honey bees, stingless bees and bumble bees—carry stowaways from their ancient ancestors: five species of gut bacteria that have evolved along with the host bees.

Overuse of Antibiotics Brings Risks for Bees — and for Us

Overuse of Antibiotics Brings Risks for Bees — and for Us

Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin have found that honeybees treated with a common antibiotic were half as likely to survive the week after treatment compared with a group of untreated bees, a finding that may have health implications for bees and people alike.

Professor Mike Ryan Receives Lifetime Career Award

Professor Mike Ryan Receives Lifetime Career Award

Biologist Mike Ryan, a professor in the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, has been chosen to receive the 2017 Distinguished Animal Behaviorist Award from the Animal Behavior Society. Considered the Society´s most prestigious award, it "recognizes an outstanding career in animal behavior."

Mathew Leibold Named Fellow of Ecological Society of America

Mathew Leibold Named Fellow of Ecological Society of America

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) announced this week that a University of Texas at Austin professor of integrative biology is one of 27 people in its new class of Fellows. 

What’s the Buzz: Reflecting on a Life's Work Inspired by Pollinators

What’s the Buzz: Reflecting on a Life's Work Inspired by Pollinators

An assistant professor reflects on a life's work inspired by pollinators and plants. 

New Coral Research Exposes Genomic Underpinnings of Adaptation

New Coral Research Exposes Genomic Underpinnings of Adaptation

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have observed for the first time that separate populations of the same species — in this case, coral — can diverge in their capacity to regulate genes when adapting to their local environment. The research, published today in Nature Ecology and Evolution, reveals a new way for populations to adapt that may help predict how they will fare under climate change.

Searching Genomes for New Chemotherapies

Searching Genomes for New Chemotherapies

A new hunting ground for medically important compounds may be the genome of a stressed-out, poisonous evergreen shrub. Rhazya stricta is a relative of a plant currently mined for chemotherapies and holds promise for future cancer therapies, according to scientists at The University of Texas at Austin, King Abdulaziz University (KAU) in Saudi Arabia and two institutions in Canada, University of Ottawa and Université de Montréal.

Bats Use Second Sense to Hunt Prey in Noisy Environments

Bats Use Second Sense to Hunt Prey in Noisy Environments

Like many predators, the fringe-lipped bat primarily uses its hearing to find its prey, but with human-generated noise on the rise, scientists are examining how bats and other animals might adapt to find their next meal. According to a new study, when noise masks the mating calls of the bat's prey, túngara frogs, the bat shifts to another sensory mode—echolocation.