During a solar eclipse, what are plants doing?

During a solar eclipse, what are plants doing?

  • July 15, 2019
  • News

As the total solar eclipse crosses South America on Tuesday, it won’t just be people oohing and ahhing as the sun is blotted out. Other living things will have their own responses, too — some of which we are just beginning to understand. As some scientists used the Great American Eclipse in August 2017 to watch how bees and birds dealt with sudden midday darkness, researchers in Wyoming investigated big sagebrush, a shaggy, aromatic desert shrub that grows throughout the…

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Proposed pipeline would cut through Golden-cheeked Warbler habitat

Proposed pipeline would cut through Golden-cheeked Warbler habitat

Every March, birders spill into the canyonlands outside of Austin, Texas, to search for Golden-cheeked Warblers. The tiny black-and-white songbird, with vibrant yellow splashed across its face, is the state’s sole endemic bird, and a federally protected species with an estimated population of 27,000. In early spring the birds migrate up from Central America to nest in the Hill Country, a region of limestone hills, caves, clear creeks, and swimming holes in Central Texas. There they construct deep cup nests, weaving strands of ash-juniper…

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New Edwards Aquifer facility designed to protect endangered species

New Edwards Aquifer facility designed to protect endangered species

A new facility to research and protect some endangered species that are native to central Texas opened Thursday. The new Edwards Aquifer habitat conservation plan buildings will house a handful of endangered species that include the San Marcos salamander, the comal springs riffle beetle, the foundation darter, and eve Texas wild rice–a grass native to the San Marcos River. Read more from Matthew Prendergast with KXAN here

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Bat-killing fungus detected in 21 Texas counties and in Bracken Cave, north of San Antonio

Bat-killing fungus detected in 21 Texas counties and in Bracken Cave, north of San Antonio

A fungus that kills hibernating bats has spread and is now detected in 21 Texas counties, including Bexar, and Comal County’s Bracken Cave, which houses the world’s largest colony of Mexican free-tailed bats. That’s double what it was in previous years, said Jonah Evans, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department state mammalogist. The fungus causes what’s known as “white nose syndrome” and has been deadly for millions of bats in eastern parts of the U.S., where some species have been…

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The flight of the Texas fireflies

The flight of the Texas fireflies

In a state with more than its share of biting, stinging, and creeping and crawling insects and arachnids with little or no charm to any but their own species, fireflies (or lightning bugs as they are variously known here) have long enjoyed a special place in our hearts, that rarest of varmints—a charismatic insect. To those of us who grew up in suburbia or out in the country in recent decades (or those who grew up in big cities long…

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For the first time, researchers find captive-bred horny toads that survived winter in the wild

For the first time, researchers find captive-bred horny toads that survived winter in the wild

For the first time ever, researchers have found captive-bred Texas horned lizard hatchlings alive after winter hibernation. It’s a big win for the state reptile, which has vanished from Texas landscapes over the past several decades. New technology has allowed Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials to track the tiny hatchlings more accurately than ever. In the past, hatchlings were nearly impossible to track after release, and all died within a few months. Even in good conditions, Texas horned lizards have a high…

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CWD sampling effort leads to proposed containment zone expansion

CWD sampling effort leads to proposed containment zone expansion

AUSTIN – Texas remains vigilant in monitoring and testing for chronic wasting disease, with no reported spread beyond existing containment zones over the last 12 months. However, the discovery of CWD in a free-ranging whitetail near the perimeter of the disease containment zone in south central Texas has led to a recommended expansion of that zone. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) surpassed its statewide goal of 6,735 CWD samples, collecting 10,421 between March 1, 2018 and Feb. 28,…

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White Nose Syndrome is a ‘looming disaster’ for bats in Texas

White Nose Syndrome is a ‘looming disaster’ for bats in Texas

  • April 4, 2019
  • News

In the eastern United States, millions of bats have died over the past few years from a disease called white nose syndrome. Biologists across the country are racing to find a cure, or at least slow it down. So far there’s no evidence of white nose syndrome infecting bats in Texas, but the fungus that causes it is here. The question now is how much it’s spread. Cypress Creek is a clear stream that runs through Wimberley in central Texas.…

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Why native plants matter

Why native plants matter

Restoring native plant habitat is vital to preserving biodiversity. By creating a native plant garden, each patch of habitat becomes part of a collective effort to nurture and sustain the living landscape for birds and other animals. Over the past century, urbanization has taken intact, ecologically productive land and fragmented and transformed it with lawns and exotic ornamental plants. The continental U.S. lost a staggering 150 million acres of habitat and farmland to urban sprawl, and that trend isn’t slowing.…

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Judge rules Golden-cheeked Warbler should stay on endangered species list

Judge rules Golden-cheeked Warbler should stay on endangered species list

A bright-faced songbird of the Texas Hill Country still faces enough threat from population growth and land development in the San Antonio-Austin region to need shelter under the Endangered Species Act, a federal judge in Austin has ruled. Senior U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks sided with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week in a case centered on the golden-cheeked warbler, a 3- to 5-inch migratory songbird that only nests in around 39 counties in Central Texas. The Texas General…

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