GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History researchers have co-authored the first comprehensive study on the evolution of two agricultural pests commonly used as model organisms.
Tobacco and tomato hornworms are among the largest caterpillars, able to individually devastate an entire plant if left unchecked. Despite their use in many fields of biology, the relationships of these hawkmoths have been confused for more than 50 years. The study published online May 3 and scheduled for the September 2013 print edition of Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution shows they are not as closely related as previously believed, providing a new baseline for determining correct classifications within the group, said lead author Akito Kawahara, assistant curator of Lepidoptera at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the University of Florida campus.
“When people make decisions about these species, they can’t assume that they are most closely related – there are other species in between that we (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As part of the Blue Star Museum program, the Florida Museum of Natural History will offer free admission to all fee-based exhibits for active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2013.
“This is a great opportunity to visit the museum and enjoy the exhibits, while being recognized for serving in the military,” said Michael Blahnik, Florida Museum security guard and former U.S. Navy seaman.
Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and more than 1,800 museums across America. The program runs from May 27 through Sept. 2. (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History visitors will soon have the opportunity to discover the state’s famous coastal waters and deep surfing culture in the new exhibit “Surfing Florida,” opening Aug. 31.
Developed by Florida Atlantic University, the exhibit documents the state’s surfing history through vintage photographs and interpretive graphics as well as videos and oral histories from well-known Florida surfers. (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History researchers have co-authored the latest edition of the universal reference for fish names in North America, an important resource for scientists, naturalists and fishermen.
The publication improves communication among fisheries biologists and others with an interest in fishes, a vital resource with substantial economic importance for humans. U.S. commercial and recreational saltwater fishing generated more than $199 billion in sales in 2011, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service.
The seventh edition of “Common and Scientific Names of Fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico” is compiled by a joint committee of the American Fisheries Society and the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History marks Earth Day with a special program on April 20.
The artists represented in two current exhibits that celebrate Florida’s natural springs will participate in a panel discussion at 11 a.m. moderated by journalist and author Cynthia Barnett.
John Moran, Lesley Gamble and Rick Kilby will explore past history, document current threats and discuss Floridians’ role in the springs’ preservation.
Families are welcome. Children and adults alike will have the opportunity to question the artists and find out what they can do to help protect Florida’s springs. (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With ocean life facing unprecedented threat from climate change, overfishing, pollution, invasive species and habitat destruction, a University of Florida researcher is helping coordinate national efforts to monitor marine biodiversity.
Humans depend on the ocean for food, medicine, transportation and recreation, yet little is known about how these vast ecosystems spanning 70 percent of the Earth’s surface are functioning and changing. Following a workshop sponsored by U.S. federal agencies in 2010, researchers at eight institutions have proposed a blueprint for establishing a cooperative marine biodiversity observation network to monitor trends in marine ecosystem health and the distribution and abundance of oceanic life. The research will appear online in BioScience Thursday and in the journal’s May print issue.
Biodiversity observation networks are indispensible tools, allowing scientists to follow and predict ecosystem changes to facilitate proactive responses to environmental pressures, said study co-author Gustav Paulay, invertebrate zoology curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — New Florida Museum of Natural History research shows a turtle population may recover from a one-time harvesting event after decades, but habitat degradation may favor more tolerant species.
Between 1969 and 1980, the northern map turtle was harvested in the Ozarks for the food trade, causing about 50 percent population loss. Analyzing a river in Missouri from 2005 to 2007, scientists found northern map turtle populations have rebounded to numbers recorded in the same river in 1969. The data shows a shift in the river turtle community, with a dramatic increase in two species that are more tolerant of degraded habitat: the red-eared slider and the (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History is continuing its popular “A for Science” free admission program for K-12 students statewide.
Students who receive an “A” or “E” grade in a science can provide their most recent report card at the front desk and receive a free admission with the purchase of a paid regular price adult admission. Alachua County students receive report cards today.
The offer is valid for the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit, the “Titanoboa: Monster Snake” exhibit open through Aug. 11, or a value admission for both exhibits.
“The ‘A for Science’ program directly supports our emphasis on youth education,” said Jaret Daniels, Florida Museum assistant director of exhibits and public programs. “It encourages them to take a strong interest in the sciences by rewarding stellar academic achievement.”
The Butterfly Rainforest is a 6,400-square-foot, lush, tropical garden with hundreds of living butterflies from around the world, including 60 to 80 different species at any given time. (more…)
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…)