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From the College of Natural Sciences

Twenty years of figuring-out fire ants

Red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) being attacked by a phorid fly in the Texas Fire Ant Lab. When the wave of red imported fire ants rolled into Austin in the early 1980s, Larry Gilbert knew in no time flat. Students who were studying ants at the Brackenridge Field Laboratory found colonies of the invaders on the property in 1981. It had ...Red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) being attacked by a phorid fly in the Texas Fire Ant Lab.

Fire ant lab celebrates 20 years of research

AUSTIN, Texas—The red imported fire ant laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin Brackenridge Field Lab (BFL) is celebrating 20 years of research this month. Dr. Larry Gilbert, director of BFL and professor of integrative biology, first initiated fire ant research at the university in 1986 by bringing to the university two young researchers...

Fire ant lab celebrates 20 years of research

AUSTIN, Texas—The red imported fire ant laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin Brackenridge Field Lab (BFL) is celebrating 20 years of research this month. Dr. Larry Gilbert, director of BFL and professor of integrative biology, first initiated fire ant research at the university in 1986 by bringing to the university two young researchers...

Farming ants cultivate one fungal crop

AUSTIN, Texas—Just as wheat is cultivated by different people around the world, different species of fungus-farming ants cultivate essentially the same fungus; show biologists from The University of Texas at Austin, providing insight into the evolution of this well-known symbiosis. Fungus-farming ants are dependent on cultivating fungus gardens fo...

Eavesdropping fringe-lipped bats spread culture through sound

AUSTIN, Texas—Like a diner ordering a dessert based solely on the “oohs” and “aahs” of a customer eating the same dish the next table over, frog-eating bats learn to eat new prey by eavesdropping on their neighbors as they eat, report biologists from The University of Texas at Austin. A fringe-lipped bat (Trachops cirrhosus) eating a túngara fro...Fringe-lipped bat

Evolution of complex calls and unusual male vocal cords in túngara frogs

AUSTIN, Texas--Male tropical túngara frogs have evolved masses on their vocal cords that help them woo females with complex calls, show scientists working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. Dr. Mike Ryan, Clark Hubbs Regents Professor of integrative biology at The University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Marcos Gridi-Papp, ...

Eric Pianka named 2006 Distinguished Scientist by Texas Academy of Science

AUSTIN, Texas—Eric Pianka, the Denton A. Cooley Centennial Professor of integrative biology, was recognized as the 2006 Distinguished Scientist by the Texas Academy of Science (TAS) for his distinguished career and numerous seminal contributions to the discipline of ecology. In recognition of this honor, Pianka gave a lecture during the TAS meetin...

Poison dart frog mimics gain when birds learn to stay away

AUSTIN, Texas—When predators learn to avoid a highly toxic frog, they generalize, and this allows a harmless frog to mimic and be more abundant than a frog whose poison packs less punch, biologists at The University of Texas at Austin studying poison dart frogs in the Amazon have discovered. Catherine Darst and Molly Cummings report their findings...

Convergent evolution of molecules in electric fish

AUSTIN, Texas—Having a set of extra genes gave fish on separate continents the ability to evolve electric organs, report researchers from The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Harold Zakon and colleagues, in a paper recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that African and South American groups of fish independe...

Global warming's impact on U.S. plants, animals determined from review of dozens of studies

AUSTIN, Texas—Global warming has forced U.S. plants and animals to change their behavior in recent decades in ways that can be harmful, according to a new report prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. The Pew Center review of more than 40 studies is co-authored by Camille Parmesan, integrative biologist at The University of Texas at...

Strongest evidence of global warming provided in new research study

AUSTIN, Texas—A biologist at The University of Texas at Austin has teamed up with an economist to provide the strongest statistical evidence yet that global warming is affecting the natural world. Even when the pair considered habitat destruction or other possible underlying causes for behavior changes in plants, animals and other wildlife, the ana...

UT Austin researcher presents hot new evidence of global warming

AUSTIN, Texas—Ecologists from around the world are finding provocative signs that global warming already may be altering the Earth's flora and fauna. And they worry that next century, when the climate is expected to change more abruptly than it has in at least 10,000 years, plants and animals will be pushed to the limit. If the Earth heats up, wil...