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From the College of Natural Sciences
Arming Texas for War on Crazy Ants

Arming Texas for War on Crazy Ants

UT scientists are all in for the fight against crazy ants. Image: Crazy Ant (Nylanderia fulva), Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In 2014, the staff at Estero Llano Grande State Park, on the Rio Grande outside Weslaco, began seeing large colonies of ants they did not recognize around the buildings and in the restrooms. Then staffers began noticing the ants driving birds out of their nests — a particularly bad thing at a park that is part of the Rio Grande Valley's World Birding Center.

UT's Biodiversity Center Prepares to Learn from Falcon's Eggs

UT's Biodiversity Center Prepares to Learn from Falcon's Eggs

UT Austin's resident peregrine falcon, Tower Girl, has been laying eggs in her nest box in the UT Tower every year since 2016. This year, as in previous years, given the amount of time that has passed since their arrivals, the eggs will not hatch.

Scientists Discover New Details about Metabolism in Ancestors of All Complex Life

Scientists Discover New Details about Metabolism in Ancestors of All Complex Life

A team of researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden, The University of Texas at Austin and elsewhere, have found new evidence that strengthens the hypothesis that the first complex life forms, called eukaryotes, arose from the merger of two simpler life forms. The same team previously identified living relatives of ancestors of eukaryotes, while this latest study shows how those ancestors might have shared the work of metabolism with bacteria they acted as hosts for.

Science—Coming to a Library Near You

Science—Coming to a Library Near You

Graduate student Emily Rees is among the UT Austin scientists who share their research with the public. Neighborhood Science is a new offering that connects researchers with local libraries. Photo credit: Vivian Abagiu.

Graduate students at UT Austin have been sharing their work with the public at the successful and popular program Science Under the Stars for ten years. Now, with a new offshoot offering called Neighborhood Science, the students, primarily from the top-ranked ecology, evolution and behavior program, are working to connect even more of the Austin community to science by bringing their informative and entertaining talks––on topics ranging from superheroes to singing mice––right into Austin Public Libraries.

Texas Invasive Species Program Gets Boost from Lee and Ramona Bass Foundation

Texas Invasive Species Program Gets Boost from Lee and Ramona Bass Foundation

Destructive and costly fire ants, crazy ants, moth larvae and invasive grasses can wreak havoc on Texas ecosystems, but biologists at The University of Texas at Austin are bringing the fight to them. With the help of a $6 million continuing grant from the Lee and Ramona Bass Foundation, researchers in the Texas Invasive Species Program will seek n...
Beauty, Bonding and Rethinking Evolution

Beauty, Bonding and Rethinking Evolution

Across the animal kingdom, males and females of the same species are often locked in a battle of the sexes. The instigator is evolution itself. It drives them to develop weapons, tactical tricks and defensive maneuvers that aid in an animal's fight to pass its genes on to a new generation.

Central Texas Salamanders, Including Newly Identified Species, At Risk of Extinction

Central Texas Salamanders, Including Newly Identified Species, At Risk of Extinction

This newly identified, unnamed salamander lives near the Pedernales river west of Austin, Texas. Photo credit: Tom Devitt.

Biologists at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered three new species of groundwater salamander in Central Texas, including one living west of Austin that they say is critically endangered. They also determined that an already known salamander species near Georgetown is much more endangered than previously thought.

Evolution Used Same Genetic Formula to Turn Animals Monogamous

Evolution Used Same Genetic Formula to Turn Animals Monogamous

In many non-monogamous species, females provide all or most of the offspring care. In monogamous species, parental care is often shared. In these frogs, parental care includes transporting tadpoles one by one after hatching to small pools of water. In the non-monogamous strawberry poison frog (Oophaga pumilio, left) moms perform this task; however, in the monogamous mimic poison frog (Ranitomeya imitator, right) this is dad's job. Credit: Yusan Yan and James Tumulty.

Why are some animals committed to their mates and others are not? According to a new study led by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin that looked at 10 species of vertebrates, evolution used a kind of universal formula for turning non-monogamous species into monogamous species — turning up the activity of some genes and turning down others in the brain.

18 Notable and Newsworthy Texas Science Stories from 2018

18 Notable and Newsworthy Texas Science Stories from 2018

It's been a big year for Texas Science, with news about research, new discoveries, technological advancements and awards making headlines around the world. Here are a few UT Austin science stories that made the news in 2018.

Females Prefer City Frogs’ Tunes

Females Prefer City Frogs’ Tunes

Túngara frog females prefer the more complex mating calls of urban males.

Urban sophistication has real sex appeal — at least if you're a Central American amphibian. Male frogs in cities are more attractive to females than their forest-frog counterparts, according to a new study published in Nature Ecology and Evolution.