News

From the College of Natural Sciences
Study of Secret Sex Lives of Trees Finds Tiny Bees Play Big Part

Study of Secret Sex Lives of Trees Finds Tiny Bees Play Big Part

A stingless bee visits a Miconia tree near Soberania National Park, Panama. Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin spent nearly four years mapping trees, bees, and pollen to reveal how different pollinators aid in the sexual reproduction of trees in one of the most detailed pollinator-mediated paternity tests in wild plants. Credit: Antonio Castilla/Univ. of Texas at Austin

​When it comes to sex between plants, tiny bees the size of ladybugs play a critical role in promoting long-distance pairings. That's what scientists at The University of Texas at Austin discovered after one of the most detailed paternity tests in wild trees ever conducted.

Scientists on the Trail of Central Texas’ Elusive Satan Fish

Scientists on the Trail of Central Texas’ Elusive Satan Fish

X-ray images of a preserved Widemouth Blindcat, a.k.a. Satan fish (Satan eurystomus). Credit: Smithsonian Institution.

As Halloween approaches, scientists are pondering a mysterious creature that may be lurking in underwater caves deep beneath a major U.S. city. It's eyeless, has see-through skin and spends its life in the total darkness of the Edwards Aquifer, thousands of feet below the bustle of San Antonio. Meet the Widemouth Blindcat, a.k.a. Satan fish. The fish were collected from deep-water wells for decades, but biologists have not seen one alive since 1984.

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.

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.

Spying on Fish Love Calls Could Help Protect Them from Overfishing

Spying on Fish Love Calls Could Help Protect Them from Overfishing

Marine scientists have discovered a way to use the incredibly loud, distinctive sounds that fish make when they gather to spawn--not to catch them but to protect them. Illustration credit: Jenna Luecke/Univ. of Texas at Austin.

About a third of the world's fish stocks are being overfished, meaning they're being harvested faster than they can reproduce, and species that spawn seasonally in large groups are especially vulnerable, easy for fishers to locate and plucked from the water often before they've seeded the next generation.

UT Austin Receives $5.6M for Long-term Study of Alaska’s Arctic Coast

UT Austin Receives $5.6M for Long-term Study of Alaska’s Arctic Coast

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has made a $5.6 million, five-year grant to The University of Texas at Austin to establish a Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program and site along the northern Alaskan coast. Research at the site will focus on changes occurring both on land and in the ocean that affect Arctic ecosystems over time. This research could help native communities anticipate possible impacts of future climate changes on the fish and wildlife they depend on.

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.

Arctic Found to Play Unexpectedly Large Role in Removing Nitrogen

Arctic Found to Play Unexpectedly Large Role in Removing Nitrogen

Areas of the Arctic play a larger role than previously thought in the global nitrogen cycle—the process responsible for keeping a critical element necessary for life flowing between the atmosphere, the land and oceans. The finding is reported in a new study of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications.

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.