In Scientific American: Plants "eavesdrop" on slimy snails

When ecologist John Orrock of the University of Wisconsin–Madison squirted snail slime—a lubricating mucus the animals ooze as they slide along—into soil, nearby tomato plants appeared to notice.

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Defending the nest

Integrative Biology grad student Jeremy Spool spent a spring living among loons to make a fascinating discovery about how they protect their lake territories.

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In Cosmos: Leg genes give spiders segmented heads

The segmented heads of spiders and scorpions arise from the actions of a gene that in other arthropod species is responsible for creating legs. That’s the somewhat surprising finding made by two scientists, Emily Setton and Prashant Sharma from the University of Wisconsin-Madison during an investigation into the evolutionary origin of spider silk-spinning.

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Spiders and scorpions have co-opted leg genes to build their heads

New research shows that the common house spider and its arachnid relatives have dispensed with a gene involved in creating segmented heads, instead recycling leg genes to accomplish the task.

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L&S wins nine of twelve UW-Madison Distinguished Teaching Awards

Twelve faculty members - nine of them from the College of Letters & Science - have been chosen to receive this year’s Distinguished Teaching Awards, an honor given out since 1953 to recognize the university’s finest educators.

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Green spaces in cities help control floods, store carbon

A new study finds that urban green spaces like backyards, city parks and golf courses contribute substantially to the ecological fabric of our cities — and the wider landscape — and should be included in ecological data.

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In the New York Times: A secret superpower, right in your backyard

As the verdant hills of Wakanda are secretly enriched with the fictional metal vibranium in “Black Panther,” your average backyard also has hidden superpowers: Its soil can absorb and store a significant amount of carbon from the air, unexpectedly making such green spaces an important asset in the battle against climate change.

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In Science Magazine: Part spider, part scorpion creature captured in amber

This week, two independent teams describe four 100-million-year-old specimens encased in amber that look like a cross between a spider and a scorpion. The discovery, “could help close major gaps in our understanding of spider evolution,” says Prashant Sharma, an evolutionary developmental biologist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison who was not involved in the work.

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In Madison.com: Know your Madisonian: UW-Madison professor examines abrupt ecosystem changes

Monica Turner is a landscape ecologist at UW-Madison. She studies the way natural systems operate over large tracts of land like a park, state or watershed. In Yellowstone she has been investigating what climate change means for forests that have bounced back from fires for millennia, but now face drought-fueled blazes of greater intensity and frequency.

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