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Science Under the Stars: Plant & Animal Chemical Interactions
Thursday, November 08, 2018, 07:00pm - 08:00pm
Volatile pheromones in the wings of male Heliconius charitonia are a mating cue for females. Photo: C. R. Morrison
Volatile pheromones in the wings of male Heliconius charitonia are a mating cue for females. Photo: C. R. Morrison
Golfo Dulce poison dart frog (P. vittatus) uses warning colors to advertise its toxicity to predators. Photo: C.R. Morrison
Golfo Dulce poison dart frog (P. vittatus) uses warning colors to advertise its toxicity to predators. Photo: C.R. Morrison
Sycamore tussock caterpillars (H. harrisii) can detoxify the sycamore leaves’ defensive chemicals. Photo: C.R. Morrison
Sycamore tussock caterpillars (H. harrisii) can detoxify the sycamore leaves’ defensive chemicals. Photo: C.R. Morrison

Colin Morrison (Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Graduate Program)

"Plant & Animal Chemical Interactions"

 

If atoms are the alphabet of life, then chemistry is the language that articulates those building blocks and gives them meaning in our lives. Behind every biological interaction—from mating signals to toxicity warnings—chemicals guide and shape possible outcomes.

Biologists study the variation of life using many different lenses. One tool that Colin uses in his research is the study of chemical ecology. Chemical ecology combines the fields of chemistry and biology to understand the causes and consequences of species interactions, distribution, abundance, and diversity. The promise of studying the chemistry of interactions between plants and animals stems from its potential to further our understanding of ecology and allow us to conserve nature in a holistic way. This month, Colin will show that chemistry is not an abstract study confined to research laboratories. Rather, it is a universal way of communicating that is responsible for the quantity and quality of plant and animal life on Earth. Colin Morrison is a PhD student in UT’s Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior program. You can read more about his work here.

Science Under the Stars is a free, monthly public outreach lecture series founded and organized by graduate students in the Department of Integrative Biology at The University of Texas at Austin. Events are held outdoors at Brackenridge Field Laboratory, 2907 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, Texas 78703. In the case of inclement weather, lectures are held indoors.

Here’s the schedule for this month’s event:

  • 6:00 pm: Snacks and displays of local animals and plants found at Brackenridge Field Laboratory will be available.
  • 6:30 pm: Kids activities start! Meet with our children’s division for fun activities designed for all ages.
  • 7:00 pm: Settle in, because the talk begins now!
  • 7:45 pm: Q&A with the speaker.

 

 

Location: Brackenridge Field Laboratory, 2907 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, Texas 78703