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From the College of Natural Sciences
A Surprising Effect of Texas Drought: Changes to the Marine Food Web

A Surprising Effect of Texas Drought: Changes to the Marine Food Web

When Texas' worst drought on record hit the state between 2011 and 2015, it did more than dry up rivers and lakes. It changed the chemical composition of fish eggs, which revealed bigger changes to the marine life in Aransas Bay.

Success of Conservation Efforts for Important Caribbean Reef Fish Hinges on Climate Change

Success of Conservation Efforts for Important Caribbean Reef Fish Hinges on Climate Change

Photo credit: Alfredo Barroso

For more than 20 years, conservationists have been working to protect one of the most recognizable reef fish in the Caribbean, the endangered and iconic Nassau grouper, and thanks to those efforts, populations of this critical reef fish have stabilized in some areas. But in a new paper, published in the journal Diversity and Distributions, marine scientists said climate change might severely hinder those efforts by the end of this century.

When Science Communication Doesn’t Get Through (Audio)

When Science Communication Doesn’t Get Through (Audio)

Climate change, vaccinations, evolution. Scientists sometimes struggle to get their message across to non-scientists. On the latest episode of the Point of Discovery podcast, what communications research can teach us about why science communication sometimes backfires, and what scientists can do about it.

Project Explores Fate of Coral Reefs and Related Life

Project Explores Fate of Coral Reefs and Related Life

An international team of coral experts, including Misha Matz, an associate professor of integrative biology at The University of Texas at Austin, have published a set of urgent research recommendations, related to the ability of coral to respond to rapid environmental change caused by climate change.

Periodic Table of Ecological Niches Could Aid in Predicting Effects of Climate Change

Periodic Table of Ecological Niches Could Aid in Predicting Effects of Climate Change

A Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus) in the reptile house at Alice Springs Desert Park, Alice Springs, Australia. Credit: Stu’s Images. Used via a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

A group of ecologists has started creating a periodic table of ecological niches similar to chemistry's periodic table. And just as chemists have used their periodic table as a point of reference to understand relationships among elements, the emerging table for ecologists shows relationships over time among animals, plants and their environments — acting as a critical resource for scientists seeking to understand how a warming climate may be spurring changes in species around the globe.

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.

Graduate Student Helps Develop New Method for Carbon Capture

Graduate Student Helps Develop New Method for Carbon Capture

​Charles Seipp, a graduate student in chemistry at The University of Texas at Austin, has helped discover a new method for capturing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and releasing it into long term storage. Seipp, currently doing research at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and his colleagues synthesized a simple chemical...
Clever Fish Keep Cool

Clever Fish Keep Cool

Ocean warming is occurring at such a rapid rate that fish are searching for cooler waters to call home.

Scientists Decode Genomes to Infer Lifestyles of Subsurface Microbes

Scientists Decode Genomes to Infer Lifestyles of Subsurface Microbes

An international team led by microbiologists Brett Baker of The University of Texas at Austin and Thijs Ettema of Uppsala University in Sweden have discovered genetic evidence that a group of subsurface microbes consumes carbon monoxide, a weak greenhouse gas, to produce energy. These microbes, first discovered in a gold mine two miles below South Africa, live in environments devoid of oxygen and light. So far, no one has successfully grown them in the laboratory, so it wasn't clear how these microbes generate energy.

Why a Simple Law Governs Tropical Rainforest Trees

Why a Simple Law Governs Tropical Rainforest Trees

Tropical rainforests play a vital role in the well-being of our planet, soaking up carbon dioxide and helping stabilize the global climate. Around the world, tropical rainforests vary widely in climate and species composition, but when scientists plot out the numbers of trees by size, a puzzling consistency emerges: each rainforest follows the same pattern in the distribution of trees of different heights.