A Natural Nature Networker

The annual Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Convention was held at the Fort Worth Convention Center at the end of March. The associated trade show was open to the public, and there were more than 200 exhibitors/vendors offering giveaways and information at various booths. Our own Dan Caudle, Resident Research Associate, worked several booths on behalf of the Youth Range Workshop , Texas Grazing Land Coalition (TXGLC) , and the Grazing Animal Nutrition (GAN) Lab at the Blackland Research and Extension Center , this last of whom (according to Dan) "test livestock fecal samples with Near Infrared Spectroscopy to determine nutritional value of the forages that have actually been consumed, digested, and passed through the animals." You know...as one does (!!!!). Though officially "retired"...
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Dr. Sherwin Carlquist Collection

In honor of National Library Week, BRIT Library would like to highlight a recent acquisition of the BRIT Library & Archive collection. Sherwin Carlquist collecting plant specimens in the field. In July of 2018, BRIT Library acquired the collection of botanist Sherwin Carlquist. This acquisition includes 100,000 color field photograph slides, 5,000 microscope slides, and 15 field notebooks. Echium cancans in the forest on the island of Madeira. Carlquist is a Guggenheim fellow and a plant anatomist based at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Herbarium (SBBG) in California and continues to publish on his research findings to this day. Over the course of his career, the primary focus of his research has been on island biogeography and island flora. The most active years of his field research span f...
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Mary Sophie Young

In honor of International Women’s Day 2019, on March 8, 2019, BRIT Library highlighted the botanist Mary Sophie Young. Mary Sophie Young, August 1914. Courtesy of the Texas State Historical Association, Austin. As one of the earliest botanists at University of Texas, Mary Sophie Young’s extensive collecting throughout Texas greatly contributed to the flora of Texas as well as the holdings of the University of Texas herbarium. The estimated number of her collection is thought to be in the vicinity of 10,000. Young was born in Glendale, Ohio, in 1872. She earned her B.A. at Wellesley College in 1895 and her PhD from the University of Chicago in 1910. In 1912, she became the curator of the University of Texas at Austin herbarium as well as a faculty member in the botany department. 1914 postc...
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Two Dozen Reasons

Resident Research Associate and retired USDA-NRCS rangeland specialist Dan Caudle shares his thoughts on the value of his continued involvement with the annual Texas Youth Range Workshop, the flagship educational opportunity of TSSRM (Texas Section of Society of Range Management).
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Two Botanists and An Artist Walk Into the Desert...

The Amon Carter Museum of American Art (ACMAA) sponsored Barney Lipscomb and Tiana Rehman to serve as botanical guides to West Texas for artist Mark Dion. Commissioned by the ACMAA, Mark—a contemporary artist who is part explorer, part historian, part naturalist, and part collector—is making a series of exploratory journeys through Texas that are inspired by four early naturalists/artists in Texas: Sarah Ann Lillie Hardinge (1824–1913), John James Audubon (1785–1851), Frank Law Olmsted (1822–1903), and Charles Wright (1811–1885). In 2020, the ACMAA Special Exhibition Galleries will tell the story of these early Texas Artists and natural history travelers in Texas. Map of Wright's journey through West Texas (from Flowering Plants of Trans-Pecos Texas and Adjacent Areas ) BRIT’s West Texas t...
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The Importance of Studying Natural History Collections Past, Present, and Future

Article written by Lani DuFresne, 2018 BRIT Herbarium and Research Intern and student at Rice University. Out of everything I’ve learned so far in my education, cursive was one of the few skills I expected I’d never use. And yet, as I spent part of my summer trying to decipher the hastily scrawled, elaborate handwritten script a botanist from the 1880’s used in his collection notes, I found myself unexpectedly grateful for it. Lani and Dr. Alejandra Vasco In all fairness, nothing else I did that summer was a task I would have expected to come across during my internship at BRIT with Dr. Alejandra Vasco , an expert on ferns. I participated in a project that aims to understand the history, distribution, diversity, and conservation challenges of native ferns in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex...
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Summer 2017 Research and Herbarium Interns

Education: Junior in Microbiology at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa Most Recent Project: Vanessa is currently collaborating with Dr. Harold W. Keller at BRIT on a paper about corticolous myxomycetes, a type of slime mold found on Texas American elm trees. Vanessa started this project during her 2017 summer internship and has continued the project in the year since. Favorite Memory of Summer 2017 BRIT internship: “Helping with the NLU collection acquisition in the herbarium, which led to lots of fun and laughter. The most memorable part of the whole experience for me was each intern getting a dinosaur-based nickname. Mine is Vanessasaurus Rex.” Education: Senior in Ecology at the University of Texas at Dallas Most Recent Project: Over the summer of 2018, Natch helped with BRIT summ...
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A Summer Deep in the Weeds: Surprises Found Along the Way

Article written by Kelly Carroll, 2018 BRIT Herbarium and Research Intern and student at Trinity University. The property doesn’t look like much, driving by – a sea of seemingly uniform brown grass studded with mesquite trees, bordered by development and what looks to be a small-scale hackberry forest with a dry creek-bed running through it. Of course, everything looks different when you get close enough to see detail. Still, I didn’t have very high expectations when I arrived with Dan Caudle , a BRIT Resident Research Associate and grass and prairie expert, in May of 2018 to do a survey of the vegetation cover and biodiversity on the property ahead of construction that would ravage a good-sized section. When the summer started, I had no real experience in identifying anything beyond being...
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A Day as a Botanical Illustrator

Article written by Isabella Wu, 2018 BRIT Herbarium and Research Intern and student at Emory University. Clear skies heralded a warm afternoon with no cover from the blazing sun. I was on my way to the LBJ Grasslands an hour away from the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (more commonly referred to as “BRIT”) where this whole herbarium adventure began. Kim Taylor, who is a rare plants expert at BRIT, had planned an outing to assess a new species first published two years ago in 2016. Memory’s Rose, latin name Rosa memoryae, sounded so good and beautiful. But there was a real possibility that it might not actually be a new species but rather a variation of the abundant Rosa foliolosa. We intended to find out. More specifically, we were going to collect the plant and record the number an...
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What Is This Thing? Bur oak acorn cap

"What is this thing???" We often hear this question from friends and family in relation to natural "treasures" found in the landscape. Sticks, leaves, flowers, fruit, fungi, lichens, moss. You name it, somebody has likely brought it to BRIT for identification at some point (or emailed us a photo). This time we feature the crazy, gargantuan, monster acorn caps from the bur oak tree ( Quercus macrocarpa ). RAWR! Monster caps! Bur oak distribution in Texas. Adapted from digital version of "Atlas of United States Trees" by Elbert L. Little, Jr. U.S. Geological Survey. Bur oak is native to the central and eastern US, including most of the middle swath of Texas, top to bottom. This fast-grower typically likes an open, limestone or chalky clay habitat and is adapted not only to fire and drought b...
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