Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Bringing native greenback cutthroats back from the brink of extinction

Seated high in the Rocky Mountains west of Fort Collins, Zimmerman Lake was abuzz last week, and not just from the swarms of pesky mosquitos that had a heyday dive-bombing visitors.

Instead, scientists and students from the University of Colorado Boulder and fisheries biologists and managers from state and federal natural resource agencies were focused on the inhabitants of a water tank in the back of a Colorado Parks and Wildlife fish-stocking truck. Inside were hundreds of colorful trout known as greenback cutthroats, about to be released into their native river drainage after vanishing for decades.

Sample of a frog’s slimy skin predicts susceptibility to disease

A simple sample of the protective mucus layer that coats a frog’s skin can now be analyzed to determine how susceptible the frog is to disease, thanks to a technique developed by a researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The same method can be used to determine what kind of probiotic skin wash might be most effective at bolstering the frog’s defenses without actually exposing the frog to disease, according to a journal article published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

Student-professor collaboration could result in a better-fed astronaut

As an undergrad studying ecology and evolutionary biology, Lizzie Lombardi found herself as one of the few “plant” people on a team of University of Colorado Boulder engineering students who were tasked with a lofty mission: build a robotic system that could garden in space.

Tallgrass prairie restoration could be bolstered by understanding rare microbes

In the first half of the nineteenth century, American settlers pushed westward into the Great Plains, lured to the prairies by the agricultural promise of their dark, rich soils.

Within a century, America’s tallgrass prairies—which once stretched across more than 150 million acres, from Minnesota south to Texas and from Illinois west to Nebraska—had all but vanished under settlers’ plows. The demise of the tallgrass prairie also meant the demise of dozens of species of grasses that could grow to the height of a man, hundreds of species of flowers and herds of roaming bison.

Bugs that don't blend in can endanger larger insect community

One badly disguised bug easily becomes a snack for a bird.

But the impact reaches far beyond one poorly camouflaged insect. The bird, drawn to the insect that doesn't blend in, sticks around to eat all the other insects that live on the same plant. Those insects, in turn, are not able to feed on the leaves of the plants as they normally would.

Rare western bumblebee creates a buzz on the Front Range

When University of Colorado Boulder junior Cole Steinmetz first begins a bumblebee hunt, he walks slowly, listening for the bee’s persistent, rumbling buzz, which Steinmetz has learned is usually lower and less singsongy than the noises made by flies and other insects.

Feather colors may be for more than just looks: Hue can affect bird health

For female North American barn swallows, looking good pays healthy dividends.

A new study conducted at the University of Colorado Boulder and involving Cornell University shows the outward appearance of female barn swallows, specifically the hue of their chestnut-colored breast feathers, has an influence on their physiological health.

CU-Boulder helps tap crowds to digitize museum records of bugs and plants

Inside the natural history museums of the world are billions of animal and plant specimens from birds, fish and beetles to flowers, mushrooms and grasses, all stacked, stored and preserved in jars and collection drawers.

The rich and diverse collections could be critical to understanding how the Earth’s biodiversity is changing in the face of a growing human footprint — if only the information were easily accessible.

Warming climate likely cause of pinyon pine cone decline

Creeping climate change in the Southwest appears to be having a negative effect on pinyon pine reproduction, a finding with implications for wildlife species sharing the same woodland ecosystems, says a University of Colorado Boulder-led study.

Frog lessons: More biodiversity equals less disease

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have been on a frog hunt.

They’ve spent three years scouring hundreds of California ponds in search of amphibians with mangled, grotesque deformities. Sometimes, the frogs have misshapen legs. Sometimes, they have extra sets of legs sprouting where they don’t belong. And sometimes, they have no legs at all.

By cataloging the deformed frogs — and the toads, newts and salamanders that share their homes — the researchers have made an important discovery: more diversity equals fewer deformations.

Pages

Give FeedbackSee More Photos View Photo