Here we highlight a couple of the many research projects run by the research staff and curators.
Additional projects can be found in the pages of the individual collections.
Fishes of Texas Project
A major focus of the Fish Collection staff since about 2006 has been the Fishes of Texas Project - a multi-institutional compilation of museum specimen-based and georeferenced fish occurrence records. In addition to data compilation, verification of identifications via inspection of specimens, and georeferencing, existence of this large, rigorously normalized database has made diverse ecological and conservation-relevant research possible. Read more about this endeavor in the project's extensive documentation.
The Biota of Waller Creek on The University of Texas campus
Waller Creek runs through the heart of the city of Austin, and is one of, if not the most, heavily urbanized watersheds in the city. Its headwaters are just south of U. S. Hwy 183. It runs through many urban neighborhoods, the University of Texas, Waterloo Park, and the heart of downtown. Along its banks are four major hospitals, two museums, the Austin Convention Center and many state, city and private business offices. Unlike streams in less urbanized areas of Austin, much of Waller Creek has year-round flow due to seepage from city water lines.
In spite of the heavy urbanization, Waller Creek is an oasis of biodiversity in the city. As far upstream as The University of Texas, research staff have documented regular occurrence of three species of heron, wood ducks, breeding populations of five species of fish, several species of non-venomous snakes, snapping turtles, a species of frog only found in the Hill Country, and many species of invertebrates and algae. It has also been a barometer of urban pollution, having been a subject of Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring, and more recently a site of concern because of concentrations of poly-aromatic hydrocarbons.
The Entomology Collection hosts an open imaging project, funded by over 200 small donors from around the world, that creates public domain photographs and videos. These insect and arachnid-centered works are produced by a team of collection curators and students. In the interest of promoting natural history, the images are free for anyone to use without the constraints of traditional copyright.