News

From the College of Natural Sciences
How Electric Fish Evolved Their Shocking Skills Independently at Six Different Times

How Electric Fish Evolved Their Shocking Skills Independently at Six Different Times

New research demonstrates that the six electric fish lineages, all of which evolved independently, used essentially the same genes and developmental and cellular pathways to make an electricity-generating organ for defense, predation, navigation and communication.

You Probably Ate Fungus Today

You Probably Ate Fungus Today

That salad you had for lunch. Yeah, it had fungi in it.

That celery stick you barely nibbled that came with your basket of wings last night. It had fungi in it too.

Variety in Diet Can Hamper Microbial Diversity in the Gut

Variety in Diet Can Hamper Microbial Diversity in the Gut

Scientists from The University of Texas at Austin and five other institutions have discovered that the more diverse the diet of a fish, the less diverse are the microbes living in its gut. If the effect is confirmed in humans, it could mean that the combinations of foods people eat can influence the diversity of their gut microbes.

Head Room: The UT Austin Greenhouses

Head Room: The UT Austin Greenhouses

Take a glimpse into two of UT's biggest and brightest (literally!) greenhouses. The BOT greenhouse holds a number of exotic plants for taxonomic study, while the Welch greenhouse hosts a variety of rich and important agricultural projects. As these horticulturalists make clear, no two greenhouses are ever the same!

UT Austin Evolutionary Ecologist Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

UT Austin Evolutionary Ecologist Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences announced this week the election of 204 new members, including Eric Pianka, an evolutionary ecologist in The University of Texas at Austin's College of Natural Sciences.

Shade Grown Coffee Shrinking as a Proportion of Global Coffee Production

Shade Grown Coffee Shrinking as a Proportion of Global Coffee Production

Coffee Management Map

The proportion of land used to cultivate shade grown coffee, relative to the total land area of coffee cultivation, has fallen by nearly 20 percent globally since 1996, according to a new study by scientists from The University of Texas at Austin and five other institutions.

Crazy Ants Dominate Fire Ants by Neutralizing Their Venom

Crazy Ants Dominate Fire Ants by Neutralizing Their Venom

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Invasive “crazy ants” are rapidly displacing fire ants in areas across the southeastern U.S. by secreting a compound that neutralizes fire ant venom, according to a University of Texas at Austin study published this week in the journal Science Express. It’s the first known example of an insect with the ability to detoxify another insect’s venom.

Bats Use Water Ripples to Hunt Frogs

Bats Use Water Ripples to Hunt Frogs

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As the male túngara frog serenades female frogs from a pond, he creates watery ripples that make him easier to target by rivals and predators such as bats, according to researchers from The University of Texas at Austin, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), Leiden University and Salisbury University.

Symbiotic Fungi Inhabiting Plant Roots Have Major Impact on Atmospheric Carbon

Symbiotic Fungi Inhabiting Plant Roots Have Major Impact on Atmospheric Carbon

Microscopic fungi that live in plants' roots play a major role in the storage and release of carbon from the soil into the atmosphere, according to a University of Texas at Austin researcher and his colleagues at Boston University and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. The role of these fungi is currently unaccounted for in global climate models.

An Amanita mushroom from a field site in Harvard Forest. This particular mushroom is the fruiting body of an ectomycorrhizal fungus associated with the roots of a Hemlock tree. Photo by Colin Averill.

Every Fish Wants to Be a Macho Fish

Every Fish Wants to Be a Macho Fish

For the male African cichlid fish, everyday can be a battle to gain rights to prime real estate and girls. Though the aquariums in Hans Hofmann’s lab in Patterson Hall are not like the fight-to-the-death arena of “The Hunger Games,” they are still the scenes of epic competition and showmanship.

Hungry Bats Spy on Neighbors to Find a Good Meal

Hungry Bats Spy on Neighbors to Find a Good Meal

Illustration by Jenna Luecke.

Before checking out a new restaurant or food cart, people turn to Yelp! or rely on old-fashioned reviews from friends and family. Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have found that bats do something similar, but only when their original dining source takes a turn for the worse.

Ulrich Mueller and Leafcutter Ants: A Story of Co-Evolution

Ulrich Mueller and Leafcutter Ants: A Story of Co-Evolution

Ulrich Mueller visits leafcutter ant colonies at the Brackenridge Field Laboratory and reflects on what fascinates him about the ants and their co-evolutionary relationship to the fungus species they farm.

Singing Mice Protect Their Turf with High-Pitched Tunes

Singing Mice Protect Their Turf with High-Pitched Tunes

Two species of tawny brown singing mice that live deep in the mountain cloud forests of Costa Rica and Panama set their boundaries by emitting high-pitched trills, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered.

Texas Invasive Species Program Established at Brackenridge Field Lab

Texas Invasive Species Program Established at Brackenridge Field Lab

To combat and manage pesky invasive species such as fire ants, tawny crazy ants and Cactoblastis moths, the Texas Invasive Species Program has been established at The University of Texas at Austin with $2.7 million in support from the Lee and Ramona Bass Foundation. Professor Larry Gilbert collects phorid flies for his research on the invasive red...
Robotic Frogs Help Turn a Boring Mating Call into a Serenade

Robotic Frogs Help Turn a Boring Mating Call into a Serenade

With the help of a robotic frog, biologists at The University of Texas at Austin and Salisbury University have discovered that two wrong mating calls can make a right for female túngara frogs.