RESEARCH

The University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has a long history of supporting basic and applied research by internal and external researchers. Much of the research has focused on using native plants and thoughtful design to address environmental problems, particularly water scarcity, climate change and loss of healthy ecosystems.

Our longest running research program looks at the impact of prescribed fire on Central Texas ecosystems. This ongoing, 20-year experiment provides insight into how plant communities respond to environmental threats, such as invasive species and climate change, and can aid land stewards in developing management plans for grasslands across Texas.

A signature accomplishment of the research program was the development of a native turfgrass, Habiturf®, a resilient and water-saving alternative to commonly used turfgrasses. This product is now commercially available as seed. Also, the Center’s research on green roofs led to the patented SkySystem™, a planting medium developed specifically for growing native plants on roofs in hot climates.

Current Projects

The following are ongoing research projects at the Wildflower Center:

  • Barrick, Jeffrey. Brochosome biodiversity: Collecting Texas leafhoppers to understand the evolution of unique insect nanostructures. UT Austin Department of Molecular Biosciences.
  • Bongiovanni, Tara. Texas Soil Observation Network. UT Austin Bureau of Economic Geology.
  • Cortina, Camila and Shalene Jha. Understanding native bee community composition. UT Austin Department of Integrative Biology.
  • Luecke, Noah and Kerri Crawford. Interactions between plants and soil microbes influence plant community structure in a changing climate. University of Houston.
  • Foulkes, Traci and Jason Martina. Assessing the soil carbon potential of Texas grasslands after 20 years of restoration. Texas State University.
  • Griffin, Sean and Shalene Jha. Organizing and analyzing eighteen years of data collected to measure the influence of prescribed fire and mowing on structure and composition of Central Texas grasslands and savannas. UT Austin Department of Integrative Biology.
  • Holley, Jo-anne. Endosymbiotic control and enhancement of leafhopper brochosomes. UT Austin Department of Integrative Biology.
  • Holley, Jo-anne. Gut microbial communities of Xylocopa carpenter bees. UT Austin Department of Integrative Biology.
  • Jha, Shalene. Understanding native bee decline through native pollinator management and monitoring. UT Austin Department of Integrative Biology.
  • Jones, Nathan and Rob Plowes. Phenology, parasitoids and host plant quality of Melitara sp. UT Austin Department of Integrative Biology.
  • Morrison, Colin. Host plant specialization and parallel structure herbivorous insect communities on a variable phytochemical landscape. UT Austin Department of Integrative Biology.
  • Morrison, Colin and Rob Plowes. Phenology, parasitoids and host plant quality of Melitara sp. UT Austin Department of Integrative Biology.

 Past Projects

  • Blanchard, Megan and Kelley Crews. Chemical defense of Lupinus texensis seeds. University of Colorado.
  • Caldwell, Todd. Soil moisture in response to prescription fire. UT Austin Bureau of Economic Geology.
  • Codrea, Vlad. Loblolly pine restoration. UT Austin Department of Molecular Biosciences.
  • Evans, Mark. Sampling of Coleoptera, Hymenoptera and Diptera. University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Gallagher, Timothy. Developing a process-based understanding of soil carbonate formation. UT Austin Jackson School of Geosciences.
  • Gartman, Drew and Kelley Crews. Land management treatment comparison using UAV flight imagery and ground plots. UT Austin Department of Geography and the Environment.
  • Hawkes, Christine. Fungal mycorrhizae and climate change. UT Austin Department of Integrative Biology.
  • Hendon, Blake. Mountain lion monitoring. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
  • Hoppe, Nathan and Mary Poteet. Ashe juniper trees and carbon sequestration. UT Austin Jackson School of Geosciences.
  • Ivers, Nicholas and Shalene Jha. Disease dynamics in Central Texas pollinator networks. UT Austin Department of Integrative Biology.
  • Johnson, William and Rob Plowes. Effects of controlled burns on the fungal microbes of King Ranch and silver bluestem. UT Austin Department of Integrative Biology.
  • Kellar, Roxanne. Biodiversity assessment. University of Nebraska.
  • Jeffery, Kevin. Establishing photographic and calming effect classification system based on healthy water environments. UT Austin School of Architecture.
  • Khojayori, Farahnoz and Jingbo Zhang. Genetic basis for evolution of floral symmetry in Krameriaceae. Virginia Commonwealth University.
  • LeBrun, Ed and Rob Plowes. Local Pseudacteon spp. population recruitment dynamics. UT Austin Department of Integrative Biology.
  • Lee, Brady and John Vogel. Isolating bacteria of interest from Panicum hallii. Berkeley National Lab.
  • Lowry, David and Tom Juenger. Local adaptation in Panicum hallii. UT Austin Department of Integrative Biology.
  • Luecke, Noah and Kerri Crawford. Microbe persistence in presence of compound disturbance in a Texas Prairie. University of Houston.
  • Niendorff, William. Tillandsa recurvata green roof study. UT Austin School of Architecture.
  • Novak, Erin and Joseph Veldman. Fire-dependent old-growth grasslands of Central Texas. Texas A&M University.
  • O’Connell, Megan and Shalene Jha. Incorporating new media into phenological data methods. UT Austin Department of Integrative Biology.
  • Plowes, Rob. Local Pseudacteon spp. population recruitment dynamics. UT Austin Department of Integrative Biology.
  • Rudgers, Jennifer. Effects of host specificity and geography on plant-fungal symbioses under climate change. University of New Mexico.
  • Tosi, Andrea. Green roofs and solar panels as a single-assembly system. UT Austin School of Architecture.
  • Whitney, Ken. Sunflower genetics. University of New Mexico.
  • Wortham, Barbara and Mary Poteet. Ashe juniper infiltration rate. UT Austin Jackson School of Geosciences.
  • Yang, Xuebin and Kelley Crews. Variation of role of driving factors (fire, herbivory, precipitation, soil type) in savanna encroachment: remote sensing. UT Austin Department of Geography and the Environment.

Conduct Research Here

Interested in conducting research here? The Wildflower Center’s 284 acres offer a diverse set of conditions for conducting field research across many areas of ecology and biology. Contact Minnette Marr to learn more.