Plant and Animal Chemical Interactions
If atoms are the alphabet of life, then chemistry is the language that articulates those building blocks and gives them meaning in our lives. Behind every biological interaction—from mating signals to toxicity warnings—chemicals guide and shape possible outcomes.
Biologists study the variation of life using many different lenses. One tool that Colin uses in his research is the study of chemical ecology. Chemical ecology combines the fields of chemistry and biology to understand the causes and consequences of species interactions, distribution, abundance, and diversity. The promise of studying the chemistry of interactions between plants and animals stems from its potential to further our understanding of ecology and allow us to conserve nature in a holistic way. This month, Colin will show that chemistry is not an abstract study confined to research laboratories. Rather, it is a universal way of communicating that is responsible for the quantity and quality of plant and animal life on Earth. Colin Morrison is a PhD student in UT’s Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior program. You can read more about his work here: https://www.colinrmorrison.com/
Science Under the Stars is a free public outreach lecture series in Austin, Texas. The talk will be held outdoors at Brackenridge Field Laboratory, 2907 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, Texas 78703. Here’s the schedule for this month’s event:
- 6:00 pm: Snacks and displays of local animals and plants found at Brackenridge Field Laboratory will be available.
- 6:30 pm: Kids activities start! Meet with our children’s division for fun activities designed for all ages.
- 7:00 pm: Settle in, because the talk begins now!
- 7:45 pm: Q&A with the speaker.
It has been known for centuries that animal tissues can generate electricity. This fact has fed some of the more outlandish pseudo-scientific theories, such as animal magnetism. But every organism on the planet, right down to bacteria, uses electricity in one way or another. Join UT graduate student Ben Liebeskind as he explores some of the lesser known uses of electricity in strange and wonderful organisms, and talks about how evolution has favored the rise of complex electrical signaling in animal brains.
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.
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.