Brackenridge Field Laboratory Website

bfl-butterflybfl-Fish-TanksBrackenridge Field Laboratory is an 82-acre biological research site that is part of an almost 400-acre tract of land originally donated to the university in 1910 by George W. Brackenridge, a former University of Texas regent.

The Brackenridge Field Laboratory property is comprised of areas of rich natural vegetation which include a native bluestem prairie, old pasture land, former quarry, Firefly Meadow, Pecan Bottoms, Colorado River and juniper woodlands. This diversity has produced records of thousands of species including at least 163 species of birds, 20 mammals, 373 species of plants, 68 species of ants, and 1200 species of moths and butterflies, and 200 species of native bees. In the 1980's a mountain lion was even spotted at BFL. Additionally, several species new to science have been discovered here and were named from specimens first collected on the site.

bfl-map1The Brackenridge Field Lab is home to the University of Texas entomology collection, which holds over 500,000 insects from all over the globe as well as one of the most complete collections of dragonflies and damselflies to be found. Evidence exists that biologists have used the area for teaching and research since the 1920's. Officially established in 1967, this unique urban field lab is now considered the primary reason that the university’s ecology, evolution and behavior graduate program is ranked eighth in the nation. BFL is one of the few research stations to be located within an urban area and so close to the main university campus. Because of this unusual proximity, professors at the University of Texas are able to conduct classes at BFL within the scope of a regular academic day. The field lab plays a strong role in UT undergraduate teaching in the life sciences and is a valuable magnet for attracting top faculty and graduate students to UT Austin. Research is facilitated through the use of six greenhouses and an 18,000 square foot state of the art lab space.

Natural areas like BFL are akin to a library of species and the information that they contain. Over 40 years of historical baseline data taken on the biota of BFL represent important benchmarks with which to measure the impacts of environmental change. For example, it was data from research projects on ants at BFL in the 1970s and early 1980s that provided the only before and after documentation of the ecological impact of invading fire ants. Many of the major names in phorid research across the county were trained at BFL and this lab is one of only two in the country where basic research is being done on new phorid species that may someday be useful in the fight against the Red Imported Fire Ant.

By the Numbers

  • 8th best Ecology, Evolution and Behavior graduate program in the nation
  • 40 years of long-term data collection in an urban ecosystem
  • 82 acres of prairies, pecan bottoms, juniper woods and lakeshore
  • 3 miles from campus
  • 500 or more students take courses at BFL every year
  • 1200 species of butterflies and moths
  • 180 species of birds370 species of plants
  • 200 species of native bees
  • 18,000 sq. ft. of state-of-the-art lab space
  • 500,000 specimens in the entomology collections
  • 6 greenhouses
  • 15-20 faculty conducting research and teaching
  • $4 million generated in grants and endowments annually

Director: Larry Gilbert
lgilbert@austin.utexas.edu
512-471-4705

CUMMINGS, MOLLY E
Molly E Cummings
Professor

Evolution of Conspicuous Signals. Mechanisms of Crypsis. Neural Mechanisms of Mate Choice.
GILBERT, LAWRENCE E
HAWKES, CHRISTINE V
Christine V Hawkes
Associate Professor

Plant-microbe interactions, community ecology, ecosystem ecology
HILLIS, DAVID M
David Hillis
Professor

Molecular evolution, phylogenetics, and systematics
JANSEN, ROBERT
Bob Jansen
Director, Professor

Plant molecular evolution, comparative genomics, plant systematics
JHA, SHALENE
Shalene Jha
Associate Professor

JONES, NATHAN T
Nathan T Jones
Research Associate

JUENGER, THOMAS E
KEITT, TIMOTHY H
Timothy H Keitt
Professor

Theoretical and computational ecology, landscapes and conservation
LADUC, TRAVIS J
Travis J Laduc
Curator, Herpetology

LeBrun, Ed
Edward G Lebrun
Research Scientist

LEIBOLD, MATHEW A
LINDER, CRAIG R
Craig R Linder
Associate Professor

MAUSETH, JAMES D
Moran, Nancy
Nancy A Moran
Professor

Insect and bacterial genomics and evolution, Symbiosis
MUELLER, ULRICH G
Ochman, Howard
Howard Ochman
Professor

PHELPS, STEVEN M
Steven M Phelps
Associate Professor

Plowes, Rob
Robert M Plowes
Research Scientist

Host-parasite-microbe interactions, invasive species
Razzaque, Samsad
Samsad Razzaque
Teaching Assistant

RYAN, MICHAEL J