The diversity and interdisciplinary nature of the research that Brackenridge Field Laboratory supports, along with its strong role in mentoring undergraduate and graduate research continue to make BFL an extraordinary and unique research unit. Faculty, research associates and graduate and undergraduate students conduct experimental studies of microevolution, evolutionary systematics and phylogenetics, ethology, population biology, physiological ecology and ecosystem dynamics.
BFL offers a special ecological research opportunity by continuing to expand on benchmark studies of environmental and organismal change within both an urban and near-urban context. For example, documentation of native ant communities at BFL prior to imported fire ant invasion placed BFL in the unique position to become a research center on this species. The extreme environmental divergence, positions the Brackenridge Field Lab at the forefront of ecosystem level studies of environmental change due to changes in climate, urbanization patterns, invasive species, and population, community and ecosystem level phenomena.
The Entomology Collection at BFL
The University of Texas Insect Collection (UTIC) housed at Brackenridge Field Laboratory represents the second largest insect collection in Texas with well over 500,000 specimens. The collection contains specimens formerly deposited in the BFL insect collection that was started in 1967. Those specimens, contributed by many researchers over the years, are largely from BFL itself, the Austin area and the state of Texas. These specimens have recently been combined with those of the Texas Natural Science Center. More than two thirds of that collection is represented by Lepidoptera or butterflies and moths, but all orders of insects are represented. Most of the specimens in the University of Texas Insect Collection document geographic and seasonal occurrence of insect species across Texas, but there are specimens from all over the world, including Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. The collection is also home to nearly 20,000 Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies). Our holdings also include the historic Ludolph Heiligbrodt (1887) and Hugh Duval Collections from Bastrop County, Texas
Faculty and Students from St. Edwards University use facilities at BFL
BFL proudly opens its doors to researchers and students outside to the UT System. Dr. Allan Hook, at St. Edward’s University, has utilized BFL facilities and grounds since 1985. His research has focused on the behavior, systematics and biodiversity of solitary wasps, especially digger wasps (Spheciformes). Over the years Dr. Hook has been able to involve number of undergraduate students in field or lab studies at BFL.