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Christina Andruk

Plants On Fire!

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Fire is a natural part of Texas plant and animal communities. Too little fire has altered our savannas and woodlands and put them at risk for catastrophic wildfires. This talk will explore how prescribed fire can be used to restore endangered species, manage invasive species, and reduce extreme wildfire risk.

Jacob Soule

Partners in Pollination

Jacob Soule, Graduate Student in Ecology, Evolution & Behavior at the University of Texas at Austin, will explain the many strange relationships that pollination produces.

UT Austin Graduate Student Jacob Soule

 Animal pollinators help over 80% of the world’s flowering plants reproduce. The relationship between plants and their animal pollinators has produced an amazing diversity of pollination mechanisms. From minute wasps that specialize in pollinating figs to orchids that mimic female bees to deceive male bees, pollination strategies are astounding in variety.

Larry Gilbert

Organisms across a dynamic landscape: Reflections on the natural and unnatural history of Central and Southern Texas

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This lecture is focused on the southern Texas ecosystem where the speaker Larry Gilbert grew up. Much of the region lacks permanent streams and has a highly unpredictable climate.  These factors shaped the ecology and natural history of organisms (including people) in the area known as the brush country.  Explorer’s accounts from the early 16th century to the early 19th century allow interpretation of certain myths about the vegetation that have shaped management tactics from the 1950s. Conservation of diversity in this region will rely on a certain amount of myth busting along with private initiatives to recognize and retain remaining tracts of native landscape matching earliest accounts.  Economic incentives to conserve natural landscapes in the region include hunting and holistic range management for cattle production. Fragmentation of large private ranches is encouraged by inheritance taxes. Tax “write-offs” for “range improvement” encourage removal of natural vegetation. Legal mechanisms to reverse such trends would indirectly promote conservation of remaining tracts of quality habitat.

Sahotra Sarkar

The Balcones Canyonlands

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We will talk about the Hill County and the remarkable animals and plants that make up its biotic community. How well are we preserving this biodiversity? What is its future? What will climate change do to it?