GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will celebrate Earth Day with its annual bioblitz from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 20 and butterfly-friendly plant sale from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 19-21.
The plant sale is one of the museum’s largest of the year, featuring more than 125 species including wildlife-friendly and Florida native plants. The bioblitz aims to teach visitors about how items go from being collected in the field to becoming part of the Museum collection. Participants will have the opportunity to explore the outdoor University of Florida Natural Area Teaching Laboratory and learn survey techniques for different animal and plant populations. Museum collections from Dickinson Hall also will be displayed during this free event.
“A unique aspect of the Earth Day event is to share the story of how the museum works to conserve and preserve our Earth’s diversity,” said Catherine Carey, Florida Museum public programs coordinator.
In addition to the plant sale and bioblitz, the museum will host a panel discussion at 11 a.m. with John Moran, Rick Kilby and Leslie Gamble about the artists’ exhibit “Springs Eternal: Florida’s Fragile Fountains of Youth and Finding the Fountain of Youth: Discovering Florida’s Magical Waters.” The museum is displaying the exhibit from March 23 through Dec. 15. Journalist and author Cynthia Barnett moderate the discussion.
Proceeds from the plant sale benefit the museum’s Butterfly Rainforest exhibit and events like the Earth Day celebration and ButterflyFest. (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new Florida Museum of Natural History gallery exhibit opening April 20 will give visitors an intimate look at nine native Florida plants through the artwork of scientist and self-taught artist Terry Ashley.
“Botanical Chords: The Art and Science of Plants and Cells” includes composite images of two aspects of the same species: a plant as seen by the human eye coupled with a microscopic view of its cells.
“I think of a chord as a combination that enhances the experience,” Ashley said. “A single note is nice, but a chord is something special.”
While working as a research scientist at the Yale University School of Medicine, she conceived the idea for “Botanical Chords” after attending a presentation by Canadian photographer Andre Gallant. He used a “subject” slide and a “texture” slide to create “slide sandwiches.” She completed her first composite image in 2002.
To create the magnified images, Ashley peels off the outer layer of a leaf, petal or stem until the specimen is a single cell layer thick. She takes many pictures of both the microscopic and large view of the plants, carefully pairing them for the best match. (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new international study co-authored by a University of Florida researcher describes one of the most comprehensive analyses of Lepidoptera evolutionary relationships to date, and could have broad implications in the fields of genetics, agriculture and conservation.
With nearly 175,000 described species serving as herbivores, pollinators and prey, Lepidoptera affect humans as agricultural pests and essential pollinators for production of many (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will host “Celebrating La Florida: Spanish Explorers at the Edge of the World” from 10:15 a.m. to noon Saturday, discussing the people, environment and cultures encountered by the state’s early explorers.
The free program sponsored by University Press of Florida features five scholars covering a variety of topics, including history, geography, archaeology and ethnology.
“To celebrate the quincentennial, we wanted to engage people with Florida’s remarkable history and culture by giving them a glimpse of the world Spanish explorers discovered upon first landing,” said University Press of Florida Director Meredith Morris-Babb. “The presentations will provide insight into Ponce de León’s voyage and examine the events following the explorer’s arrival on April 2, 1513, with a goal of creating a better understanding of interactions with the native peoples, initial efforts to settle Florida and resulting Spanish influences in the state.” (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Scientist Alex Hastings, a former University of Florida graduate student who unwrapped the first Titanoboa fossils from Colombia at the Florida Museum of Natural History, will discuss the discovery during the museum’s final Science Café of the semester Monday.
The program at Saboré restaurant, 13005 SW First Road, suite 129 in Town of Tioga from 6:30 to 8 p.m., includes discussions on giant snakes, bizarre crocodilians and climate change. Hastings, a visiting instructor from the department of geology and geography at Georgia Southern University, will describe the science behind the colossal discovery of Titanoboa.
“I hope people walk away with the impression that not only has Titanoboa, the largest snake known to science, helped us understand the world after the dinosaurs, but it has told us a little about what to expect for Earth’s future,” Hastings said.
Participants are normally asked to RSVP for the free program at least one week in advance, but a limited number of openings remain and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. To RSVP, email your name and the number attending to email@example.com or call Amanda Harvey, 352-273-2062. Participants purchase their own refreshments, and may arrive as early as 6 p.m. to place orders from a limited menu. (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A study co-authored by a University of Florida scientist adds critical new data for understanding caribou calving grounds in an area under consideration for oil exploration in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The research may be used to create improved conservation strategies for an ecologically important area that has been under evaluation for natural resource exploration since enactment of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980.
By studying bone accumulations on the Arctic landscape, lead author Joshua Miller discovered rare habitats near river systems are more important for some caribou than previously believed. The study appearing online today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B shows bone surveys conducted on foot provide highly detailed and extensive data on areas used by caribou as birthing grounds.
“The bone surveys are adding a new piece of the puzzle, giving us a way of studying how caribou use the landscape during calving and providing a longer perspective for evaluating the importance of different regions and habitats,” said Miller, an assistant scientist at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus and a Fenneman assistant research professor at the (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new free brochure published by the Florida Museum of Natural History provides tips for enhancing landscapes with native plants specifically for butterflies.
The brochure, “Monarchs & Milkweeds,” features photos of common butterfly larvae and their host plants as well as five species of milkweeds native to the southeast United States.
“Any nature enthusiast can use the brochure to identify caterpillars, which gardeners sometimes kill simply because they munch on leaves,” said Jaret Daniels, lepidopterist and assistant professor in the Florida Museum’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity.
Daniels said the brochure should be useful to a variety of people, from school groups to garden clubs to professional landscapers at zoos and botanical gardens. The brochures are available at the museum, but interested parties may also contact Daniels at firstname.lastname@example.org. (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new University of Florida study of nearly 5,000 Haiti bird fossils shows contrary to a commonly held theory, human arrival 6,000 years ago didn’t cause the island’s birds to die simultaneously.
Although many birds perished or became displaced during a mass extinction event following the first arrival of humans to the Caribbean islands, fossil evidence shows some species were more resilient than others. The research provides range and dispersal patterns from A.D. 600 to 1600 that may be used to create conservation plans for tropical mountainous regions, some of the most threatened habitats worldwide. Understanding what caused recent extinctions – whether direct habitat loss or introduction of invasive species – helps researchers predict future ecological impacts. The study was published (more…)
Florida Museum to unpack fossils of new 30-foot-long giant crocodile relative from Colombia Friday at 11 a.m.March 20th, 2013
What: Newly arrived fossils from the Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia will be unloaded and opened at the Florida Museum of Natural History.
When: 11 a.m. Friday March 22
Where: Florida Museum of Natural History rear loading dock, 3215 Hull Road, Gainesville, University of Florida Cultural Plaza
Media: Museum employees will unload and open plaster jackets containing fossils of an unnamed crocodile relative recently received from Colombia. The fossils are from the same Cerrejon coal mine where the 48-foot-long “Titanoboa: Monster Snake” was discovered. The fossils will be brought into the “Titanoboa” exhibit prep lab, where visitors have the opportunity to observe “science in action” and speak with researchers and volunteers working on the fossils.
Florida Museum vertebrate paleontology curator Jonathan Bloch, who led the international team that discovered Titanoboa, will be available for interviews.
“This is extremely exciting because we’ll be unpacking the first lower jaw discovered of this giant, 30- to 40-foot-long crocodile relative we believe may have actually battled Titanoboa,” Bloch said.
Bloch and other researchers are currently preparing a journal article describing the new species.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will open two new free exhibits Saturday featuring the state’s natural springs and exploring legends surrounding Ponce de León’s discovery of the state 500 years ago.
The “Springs Eternal: Florida’s Fragile Fountains of Youth” exhibit features 88 images by nature photographer John Moran, including a 20-foot-by-60-foot photograph of two manatees and four other large-scale images. Based on an upcoming book by Rick Kilby, the “Finding the Fountain of Youth: Discovering Florida’s Magical Waters” exhibit examines how the legend of Ponce de Leon’s quest for restorative waters shaped the Sunshine State’s image as a land of fantasy, rejuvenation and magical spring-fed waters. (more…)