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From the College of Natural Sciences

Cool Class: Bug Boot Camp

Katy Kenny decided to take John Abbott’s Field Entomology class in the summer of 2007 for two reasons. One was that she’d heard from friends that the three week “mini-mester” course, which Abbott teaches just after the spring semester ends, was interesting. The other was that she wanted to overcome her fear of bugs. “It helped,” says Kenny, a biol...katy kenny

Dry Times

Images from a thermal camera show that the German Arabidopsis plants transpire less and are hotter (bottom three). This contrasts with the German plants that have a key section of chromosome from Cape Verdean plants. They transpire more and are much cooler (top three). Any farmer or gardener worth their salt understands the power of water to giv...Images from a thermal camera show that the German Arabidopsis plants transpire less and are hotter (bottom three). This contrasts with the German plants that have a key section of chromosome from Cape Verdean plants. They transpire more and are much cooler (top three).

Troubled Waters: A rare desert spring ecosystem considered one of Mexico's 13 natural wonders is threatened

Sprawling across a cactus-studded valley in México's Chihuahuan Desert is a place like no other on the planet.

The Endangered Aquatic Box Turtle

The Coahuilan aquatic box turtle is found in a unique valley in Mexico called Cuatrociénegas and no where else on the planet. It's the only aquatic box turtle in the world. Scientists estimate that only about 2000 exist in the wild and their habitat is quickly shrinking due to over use of water in agriculture, climate change and invasive species. U...

Cactus Odyssey

In January of this year, biologist James Mauseth published the fourth edition of his textbook, Botany: An Introduction to Plant Biology. It draws on his more than three decades of research and teaching in the field of plant biology, and in particular on the insights he’s gleaned from the study of cacti. I sat down with Mauseth, a professor of inte...jdm
Amazonian Amphibian Diversity Traced to Andes

Amazonian Amphibian Diversity Traced to Andes

AUSTIN, Texas — Colorful poison frogs in the Amazon owe their great diversity to ancestors that leapt into the region from the Andes Mountains several times during the last 10 million years, a new study from The University of Texas at Austin suggests. This is the first study to show that the Andes have been a major source of diversity for the Amaz...

Historicizing HIV

Biologist Sara Sawyer has used phylogenetic analysis to help answer a key question about the evolution of the primate retroviral defense system. Photo: Scott Shulz Sara Sawyer’s eureka moment, as a young scientist, came when thinking about how to apply her interest in the long sweep of evolutionary theory to one of the big questions in HIV resea...Biologist Sara Sawyer has used phylogenetic analysis to help answer a key question about the evolution of the primate retroviral defense system. Photo: Scott Shulz

The Lamprey Factor

Biologist Jennifer Morgan studies the regeneration of neural function in lampreys after spinal cord injury. Her work, which is funded by grants from the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Morton Cure Paralysis Fund, may have implications for treatment of spinal cord injuries in humans. If neurobiologist Jennifer Morgan is right, one of the se...Biologist Jennifer Morgan studies the regeneration of neural function in lampreys after spinal cord injury. Her work, which is funded by grants from the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Morton Cure Paralysis Fund, may have implications for treatment of spinal cord injuries in humans.
Oldest Living Lineage of Ants Discovered in the Amazon

Oldest Living Lineage of Ants Discovered in the Amazon

AUSTIN, Texas—A new species of blind, subterranean, predatory ant discovered in the Amazon rainforest by University of Texas at Austin evolutionary biologist Christian Rabeling is likely a descendant of the very first ants to evolve. The new ant is named Martialis heureka, which translates roughly to “ant from Mars,” because the ant has a combinat...

Gilbert Endowment Established by Worthingtons

Roger Worthington (B.A. ’83, J.D. ’86) and professor Larry Gilbert AUSTIN, Texas—University of Texas at Austin alums Roger and Ann Worthington have donated $500,000 to establish the Lawrence E. Gilbert, Jr. Excellence Endowment, an endowment for the benefit of Brackenridge Field Laboratory (BFL) and research and education in ecology and biodiver...
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Genes of Attraction

This array shows 306 genes in female swordtails turning on (red), turning off (green) or not changing (black). When females were with attractive males, many of their genes turned off (first column, green). The same genes were turned on when females were with other females (second column, red). The third and fourth columns show gene activity when fe...This array shows 306 genes in female swordtails turning on (red), turning off (green) or not changing (black). When females were with attractive males, many of their genes turned off (first column, green). The same genes were turned on when females were with other females (second column, red). The third and forth columns show gene activity when females were swimming with unattractive males or alone, respectively.

Scientists Find New Clues to Explain Amazonian Biodiversity

AUSTIN, Texas--Ice age climate change and ancient flooding—but not barriers created by rivers—may have promoted the evolution of new insect species in the Amazon region of South America, a new study suggests. The Amazon basin is home to the richest diversity of life on earth, yet the reasons why this came to be are not well understood. A team of ...
Global Warming Experts Recommend Drastic Measures to Save Species

Global Warming Experts Recommend Drastic Measures to Save Species

AUSTIN, Texas—An international team of conservation scientists from Australia, the United Kingdom and United States, including University of Texas at Austin Professor Camille Parmesan, calls for new conservation tactics, such as assisted migration, in the face of the growing threat of climate change. They report their policy ideas in a paper publi...

Into the Field

Ulrich Mueller, recent recipient of the E.O. Wilson award, crouches above a leafcutter ant mound at the Brackenridge Field Lab in Austin. He's been monitoring ants at the lab for a decade in concert with his work in Central and South America. Photo: Marsha Miller. In his acceptance speech for the E.O. Wilson Award at this year’s annual meeting o...Ulrich Mueller at Brackenridge Field Lab
Giant Cane and the Little Wasp That Could

Giant Cane and the Little Wasp That Could

AUSTIN, Texas—Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin will work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) to investigate biological control for an invasive cane grass that is choking waterways across North America. The introduced European cane, Arundo donax, grows in dense stands in wetlands and rip...