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AOU honors bird-coloration expert, Dr. Geoff Hill
The Donald E. Davis Arboretum was recently listed in as one of the “50 Most Stunning University Gardens and Arboretums.” Listed at number 35, the Davis Arboretum is home to more than 650 species of plants native to the Southeastern United States. Auburn’s geographic position at the Fall Line, where the rocky uplands of Alabama meet the sandy coastal plains, allows the Davis Arboretum to display a diverse collection of plants that flourish both north and south of the Fall Line.
AUBURN UNIVERSITY – The results are in on Deepwater Horizon oil spill research conducted by an Auburn University postdoctoral researcher, and her study indicates microscopic animals at the base of the food web that were harmed during the 2010 oil spill have recovered. The researcher, Pamela Brannock of the Department of Biological Sciences in Auburn’s College of Sciences and Mathematics, or COSAM, together with a team from Auburn Professor Kenneth Halanych’s lab and the University of Texas San Antonio, gathered and analyzed sediment samples taken before and after the oil reached Dauphin Island. The samples provided a basis for comparison to assess how the microscopic communities of marine invertebrates that live between the sand grains, or meiofauna, fared the oil spill.
AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Alabama could potentially be the new home of the Argentine Black and White Tegu, a large predatory lizard reaching 4 feet in length and more than 10 pounds. The tegus, native to South America, have made their way to southern Florida where they are rapidly flourishing. The lizards are known to eat small mammals, birds and most importantly, other reptile eggs, which presents a threat to alligators and the rare gopher tortoise, both native to the Southeast.
The Auburn University Museum of Natural History held an open house on Saturday, Nov. 8, providing an opportunity for the community to meet the curators and explore the more than 1 million specimens found in the museum’s eight collections.
Researchers from the Molette Biology Laboratory for Environmental and Climate Change Studies recently published a paper in Current Biology. The paper, titled “Phylogenomic Resolution of the Hemichordate and Echinoderm Clade,” includes work by authors Scott Santos, associate professor of Biological Sciences, Damien Waits, a graduate student in biological sciences, and Kenneth Halanych, the Stewart Schneller Endowed Chair in the Department of Biological Sciences.
Professor Robert Boyd of the Department of Biological Sciences is co-editor of a new book that was recently published, “Plant Ecology and Evolution in Harsh Environments.” The book provides updated coverage on how plants respond to stressful environments and includes chapters on challenges such as climate change and how plants can be used to clean up pollutants. The 426-page book is for botanists and ecologists who are studying how plants evolve and adapt to stress, and provides some full-color photographs and illustrations, as well as the most up-to-date field research. In total, the book has 16 chapters with 46 contributing authors and was written primarily by teams of international experts.
SCB gets behind-the-scenes tour of AU Raptor Center
SCB visits Gulf Coast Zoo, Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, and Splinter Hill Bog - DBS
Dr. James Barbaree (AU DBS) in USA Today and NY Times on disease transmission
SCB night swamp walk - DBS
AUBURN UNIVERSITY – A group of Auburn researchers has published a study that could overturn some long-held paradigms regarding spider web evolution. Because of similarities in behaviors associated with web construction and the complicated nature of the webs, it has long been thought that all orb-weaving spiders shared a common ancestor. The study shows that spiders that weave orb-shaped webs are not all closely related and that the orb web was likely not the pinnacle of web evolution.
An Auburn graduate student and former "Gator Boy" who wrestled with alligators in Eufaula continues his research in Costa Rica; this time, with crocodiles. "In terms of behavior, crocodiles seem to be a lot gnarlier than alligators," said Chris Murray, a member of the Craig Guyer lab in the Department of Biological Sciences at Auburn University, who is investigating the physiological and ecological factors that affect crocodilians within that country. "They're larger, and don't tire out nearly as fast, if ever, in some instances. They have a lot of fight and they're more nimble and flexible than your average alligator." He is seeking solutions for crocodile population issues identified by a Costa Rican commission that studies the animals.
Adventures of "AU in Swaziland"
Biological Sciences Professor Troy Best co-authored a new book titled, "Mammals of Alabama." Best wrote the book with the late Auburn University Professor of Biological Sciences Julian Dusi, and it is the first and only exhaustive guidebook to Alabama's diverse mammalian fauna. Written for anyone with an interest in mammalian diversity within the state, the book serves as a guide to species identification and includes hundreds of photos and fun facts.
Hood Lab research featured in popular press
For more than a century, researchers have believed that sponges represented the earliest living lineages of the animal tree. Thanks to modern genomic sequencing techniques, scientists in Auburn's College of Sciences and Mathematics discovered that ctenophores, or comb jellies, are actually at the base of the animal kingdom. The research results have been published in the journal Nature and can be read at this link. "The placement of comb jellies at the base of the animal tree rewrites some of our very basic understanding of how animals first evolved on this planet," said Kenneth Halanych, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Auburn. "The new genomic data overturns 150 years of scientific theories about the early evolution of animals." Halanych and the team of scientists, including Kevin Kocot, postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Biological Sciences at Auburn, along with an international team of scientists led by Leonid Moroz, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Florida, have studied the complete genome of a comb jelly, Pleurobrachia bachei, known as the "Pacific sea gooseberry." They were able to show that the species is remarkably distinct from other animals in that the genetic mechanisms used in ctenophore nerves and muscles are different from those seen in other animals.
Auburn to Host Genomics Workshop
The Georgia and Alabama Plant Conservation Alliances met jointly for the first time May 1-2, on the Auburn campus. The meeting highlighted local efforts toward addressing plant conservation issues in both Alabama and Georgia and featured guest speakers from Atlanta Botanical Gardens, the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance, the Alabama Plant Conservation Alliance and the Auburn University Donald E. Davis Arboretum.
The 2013 Arboretum Photo Contest is over and it's time to announce the winners! Here they are, listed by category. Click on each image to view a larger version.
AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Auburn University and the Southeastern Conference announced today that Professor Geoffrey Hill of the College of Sciences and Mathematics has been honored with the SEC’s Auburn University Faculty Achievement Award for 2013-2014. “The 2014 SEC Faculty Achievement Award winners are some of our nation’s most accomplished instructors, researchers and scholars,” said Dr. Jay Gogue, President of Auburn University and President of the Southeastern Conference. “It is my great pleasure to preside over an intercollegiate athletics conference that not only recognizes their work, but strives to support it as well.” Hill, an Alumni Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and curator of birds for the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, will receive a $5,000 honorarium and represent Auburn as the university’s nominee for the SEC Professor of the Year. The SEC Professor of the Year will be selected from 14 nominees representing each of the SEC universities.
Our department’s Marine Biology Club, Microbiology Club, and Society for Conservation Biology Chapter collaborated on a 3-club overnight field trip to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. Faculty advisors, Tony Moss, Mark Liles, and Bob Boyd (along with faculty member Sharon Roberts) arranged for a unique field trip.
Auburn Biological Sciences students were tired but happy at the end of the day following their trip out on the R/V Alabama Discovery out of Dauphin Island Sea Lab.
SCB explores Jackson County caves with Jim Godwin
Auburn students interested in an intensive study-abroad program in one of the world’s most lush and adventure-filled locations can take advantage of the Organization for Tropical Studies, which owns and operates three biological field stations in Costa Rica: La Selva, Las Cruces and Palo Verde. OTS is a non-profit consortium that includes 63 universities and research institutions from the U.S., Latin America and Australia. Auburn University is the only school in the state that is a member of OTS, and since joining the consortium in 1987, Auburn students have had access to educational, research and funding opportunities in Costa Rica that are not available to non-member institutions.
SCB gets guided tour at Birmingham Zoo