Desert mosses use quartz rocks as sun shades

A graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, found that some mosses in the California desert seek protection from the relentless sun and heat by sheltering under translucent quartz pebbles, essentially using the rocks as sunshades.

The soil under these rocks retains more moisture than exposed desert soil, said Jenna Ekwealor, while enough light leaks through the milky quartz to allow the tiny mosses to remain green with chlorophyll. Mosses actually prefer dim light, making these conditions ideal for growth.

 

Congratulations to Britt Koskella on your Promotion to Associate Professor

Professor Koskella is an evolutionary biologist seeking to understand how interactions among species generate and maintain much of the diversity you see on earth. She is interested in how species interactions influence genetic diversity within populations, diversity between populations, and species diversity at the community level. By combining evolutionary theory on coevolution, population dynamics, and infection genetics, she directly tests the underlying assumptions and predicted outcomes of host-pathogen and microbial interactions through the

Berkeley Changemaker Technology Innovation Grant awardees announced

The Department of Integrative Biology is one of the winners of the first-ever Berkeley Changemaker Technology Innovation Grants. Launched by the office of UC Berkeley Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Bill Allison in the office of Chief Information Officer Larry Conrad, the winning projects, announced today (Thursday, June 25), will share $400,000 in general funds that were earmarked by Conrad in the 2019-2020 school year for information technology (IT

Congratulations to UCMP's Director of Education and Outreach, Dr. Lisa White the newly appointed Chair of the AGU s (American Geophysical Union) Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee.

Dr. White joined the UCMP in July 2012 as Director of Education and Outreach. She comes to the UCMP after a 22-year history at San Francisco State University where she held positions of Professor of Geosciences and Associate Dean of the College of Science and Engineering.

To climb like a gecko, robots need toes!

Biologists from the University of California, Berkeley, and Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics observed geckos running horizontally along walls to learn how they use their five toes to compensate for different types of surfaces without slowing down.

The research helped answer a fundamental question: Why have many toes?” said Robert Full, UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology.

Congratulations to Julianne Peláez for being selected as a recipient of the 2020-2021 STEM Chateaubriand Fellowship!

The Chateaubriand Fellowship is a grant offered by the Embassy of France in the United States. It supports outstanding Ph.D. students from American universities who wish to conduct research in France for a period ranging from 4 to 9 months. Chateaubriand fellows are selected through a merit-based competition, through a collaborative process involving expert evaluators in both countries.

 

What do soap bubbles and butterflies have in common?

Edith Smith bred a bluer and shinier Common Buckeye at her butterfly farm in Florida, but it took University of California, Berkeley, graduate student Rachel Thayer to explain the physical and genetic changes underlying the butterfly’s newly acquired iridescence.

In the process, Thayer discovered how relatively easy it is for butterflies to change their wing colors over just a few generations and found the first gene proven to influence the so-called “structural color” that underlies the iridescent purple, blue, green and golden hues of many butterflies.

As COVID-19 hits Peru, a brave Berkeley Ph.D. student finds her way home

Giovanna Figueroa, a UC Berkeley Ph.D. student in the Department of Integrative Biology, had just arrived in the village the previous day, after a 16-hour boat trip from her base in Iquitos, the rainforest’s largest city and one that can’t be reached by roads. When the local guide she’d hired told her the latest, Figueroa was pressing herbarium specimens, preserving palm fruit pulp samples and pleased with her first day of research in Pucaurco on a two-week trip along the Nanay, a 196-mile tributary of the Amazon River.

In Earth’s largest extinction, land die-offs began long before ocean turnover

Fossilized pollen grain

“Most people thought that the terrestrial collapse started at the same time as the marine collapse, and that it happened at the same time in the Southern Hemisphere and in the Northern Hemisphere,” said paleobotanist Cindy Looy, University of California, Berkeley, associate professor of integrative biology. “The fact that the big changes were not synchronous in the Northern and Southern hemispheres has a big effect on hypotheses for what caused the extinction.