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From the College of Natural Sciences
Study on Climate Change Impacts on Plants Could Lead to Better Conservation Strategies

Study on Climate Change Impacts on Plants Could Lead to Better Conservation Strategies

The three-year study focused on Coyote Ridge, a grassland near San Jose, California, which has several endemic plant species. Credit: Erika Zavaleta/University of California, Santa Cruz.

The loss of plant species that are especially vulnerable to climate change might lead to bigger problems than previous studies have suggested, according to a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. If confirmed, the findings can help inform conservation strategies and lead to more accurate predictions about what ecosystems will look like in the future.

E-Cookbook Promotes Sustainable Food Sourcing and Raises Funds for Charity

E-Cookbook Promotes Sustainable Food Sourcing and Raises Funds for Charity

A team of 17 students from The University of Texas at Austin created a donation-based e-cookbook titled "A Taste of Austin Through the Lens of Sustainability" that showcases local restaurants and businesses focused on sustainability.

Climate-friendly Microbes Chomp Dead Plants Without Releasing Heat-trapping Methane

Climate-friendly Microbes Chomp Dead Plants Without Releasing Heat-trapping Methane

Tengchong Yunnan hot springs in China, where some of the newly described Brockarchaeota were collected. Photo credit: Jian-Yu Jiao from Sun Yat-Sen University.

The tree of life just got a little bigger: A team of scientists from the U.S. and China has identified an entirely new group of microbes quietly living in hot springs, geothermal systems and hydrothermal sediments around the world. The microbes appear to be playing an important role in the global carbon cycle by helping break down decaying plants without producing the greenhouse gas methane.

Jessica O’Connell Connects Ecology Research with Local Conservation Efforts

Jessica O’Connell Connects Ecology Research with Local Conservation Efforts

Photo courtesy of Jessica O'Connell.

Jessica O'Connell, an ecologist, remote-sensing specialist and data scientist, recently joined the Department of Marine Science as an assistant professor. O'Connell worked in wetlands across North America before making her way to the Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, where she works to uncover what causes change in wetland systems while being responsive to local conservation and management issues. Part of that work looks at how climate change and sea level rise may impact coastal marshes.

Two Pesticides Approved for Use in U.S. Found to Harm Bees

Two Pesticides Approved for Use in U.S. Found to Harm Bees

A previously banned insecticide, which was approved for agricultural use last year in the United States, is harmful for bees and other beneficial insects that are crucial for agriculture, and a second pesticide in widespread use also harms these insects. That is according to a new analysis from researchers at The University of Texas at Austin.

Hunting for a Better Biofuel Is Scope of New UT Austin-Led Research

Hunting for a Better Biofuel Is Scope of New UT Austin-Led Research

Switchgrass field experiments by the Juenger lab and partners in Michigan. Credit: Robert Goodwin, Michigan State University.

A team of scientists from nine universities and research facilities hope to find out how to make switchgrass — a fast-growing perennial native to the U.S. — into a biofuel powerhouse.

Model Predicts Which Coral Reefs Will Better Adapt to Global Warming

Model Predicts Which Coral Reefs Will Better Adapt to Global Warming

Various staghorn corals in the Great Barrier Reef. Image credit: The Ocean Agency / XL Catlin Seaview Survey.

​Climate change is causing coral reefs around the world to decline. According to a new study in the journal Global Change Biology, reefs that receive more heat-tolerant coral larvae from warmer ocean regions will be more likely to adapt and survive than those that receive less. The discovery was made using a computer model created by University of Texas at Austin evolutionary biologist Mikhail Matz.

Long-Living Tropical Trees Play Outsized Role in Carbon Storage

Long-Living Tropical Trees Play Outsized Role in Carbon Storage

Irene del Carmen Torres Dominguez measures the diameter of a tree on Barro Colorado Island in Panama. Since 1982, more than 200,000 trees are measured every five years. (Photo by Christian Ziegler)

A group of trees that grow fast, live long lives and reproduce slowly account for the bulk of the biomass—and carbon storage—in some tropical rainforests, a team of scientists says in a paper published this week in the journal Science. The finding that these trees, called long-lived pioneers, play a much larger role in carbon storage than previously thought may have implications in efforts to preserve forests as a strategy to fight climate change.

Two UT Austin Faculty Receive Sloan Research Fellowships

Two UT Austin Faculty Receive Sloan Research Fellowships

Sean Roberts (left) and David Soloveichik have received Sloan Research Fellowships.

Two faculty members from the University of Texas at Austin have received 2020 Sloan Research Fellowships, which honor outstanding early-career scientists in eight fields.

Auto Emissions Generate More Dangerous Ultrafine Particles Than Once Thought

Auto Emissions Generate More Dangerous Ultrafine Particles Than Once Thought

University of Texas at Austin undergraduate Annie Zhang was part of a research team that found auto emissions are responsible for more dangerous ultrafine particles than previously thought. Photo credit: Vivian Abagiu.

An international team of researchers that includes undergraduate chemistry student Annie Zhang from The University of Texas at Austin has found that aromatic compounds from auto emissions play a key role in the creation of tiny airborne particles that pose a significant health problem in many urban areas of the world.