News

From the College of Natural Sciences
The Terrifying Science Behind Floating Fire Ant Colonies

The Terrifying Science Behind Floating Fire Ant Colonies

Portrait of a red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Public domain image by Alex Wild, produced by the University of Texas at Austin "Insects Unlocked" program.

Hurricane Harvey has revealed its magnitude through devastating floods and damages, and now it has introduced another scourge -- giant clusters of floating fire ants.

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.

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. 

Learning About Evolution from a Lizard That Reproduces Without Males

Learning About Evolution from a Lizard That Reproduces Without Males

The latest issue of the Nautilus takes an in-depth look at decades of work by David Crews, a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology, who has been studying species of whiptail lizards that are entirely female.

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.

Supporting Pollinators Could Have Big Payoff for Texas Cotton Farmers

Supporting Pollinators Could Have Big Payoff for Texas Cotton Farmers

According to a new study by The University of Texas at Austin, increasing the diversity of pollinator species, including bees, flies and butterflies, can dramatically increase cotton production. The researchers estimate that in South Texas, the region they studied, increasing the diversity of pollinators could boost cotton production by up to 18 percent, yielding an increase in annual revenue of more than $1.1 million.

Mr. Sandman: Alum Dan Goldman Snakes Across Dunes of Research

Mr. Sandman: Alum Dan Goldman Snakes Across Dunes of Research

Dan Goldman (Ph.D. Physics '02), a physicist at Georgia Tech, is exploring how animals move on tricky surfaces like sand, bark, leaves and grass. The New York Times produced two videos on his research, which revealed how sidewinder snakes climb up sand dunes and how the sandfish lizard "swims" through sand. Tomorrow, he's delivering a talk to undergraduates at UT Austin titled "Robophysics: Physics Meets Robotics." We recently chatted about his work.

Audio: Saving the Bees, Two Perspectives

Audio: Saving the Bees, Two Perspectives

As bees sharply decline around the world, two researchers are taking very different approaches to understand -- and potentially reverse -- this troubling trend. One is studying the microbes that live inside bees and help protect them against infections. The other is studying the links between changing landscapes and bee health.

Fish Skin Provides Invisibility in Open Ocean

Fish Skin Provides Invisibility in Open Ocean

Scientists have solved a longstanding mystery about how some fish seem to disappear from predators in the open waters of the ocean, a discovery that could help materials scientists and military technologists create more effective methods of ocean camouflage.