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Fall 2017

Inquiry Magazine Archive

  • Winter 2016

    Winter 2016: Energy Evolution

    From carbon dioxide conversion to landfill mining, researchers at UTA are seeking viable alternative energy options.

  • Spring 2016

    Spring 2016: Premium Blend

    Found in everything from space shuttles to dental fillings, composite materials have thoroughly infiltrated modern society. But their potential is still greatly untapped, offering researchers ample opportunity for discovery.

  • Fall 2015

    Fall 2015: Collision Course

    Within the particle showers created at the Large Hadron Collider, answers to some of the universe’s mysteries are waiting.

  • Spring 2015

    Spring 2015: Almost Human

    Model systems like pigeons can help illuminate our own evolutionary and genomic history.

  • Fall 2014

    Fall 2014: Small Wonder

    UT Arlington's tiny windmills are bringing renewable energy to a whole new scale.

  • Winter 2014

    Winter 2014: Overdue for an Overhaul

    The stability of our highways, pipelines, and even manholes is reaching a breaking point.

  • 2012

    2012: Mystery solved?

    Scientists believe they have discovered a subatomic particle that is crucial to understanding the universe.

  • 2011

    2011: Boosting brain power

    UT Arlington researchers unlock clues to the human body’s most mysterious and complex organ.

  • 2010

    2010: Powered by genetics

    UT Arlington researchers probe the hidden world of microbes in search of renewable energy sources.

  • 2009

    2009: Winning the battle against pain

    Wounded soldiers are benefiting from Robert Gatchel’s program that combines physical rehabilitation with treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • 2009

    2007: Sensing a solution

    Tiny sensors implanted in the body show promise in combating acid reflux disease, pain and other health problems.

  • 2006

    2006:Semiconductors: The next generation

    Nanotechnology researchers pursue hybrid silicon chips with life-saving potential.

  • 2005

    2005: Imaging is everything

    Biomedical engineers combat diseases with procedures that are painless to patients.


Stress Tests

Biologist discovers potential cause for uneven distribution among biological species 

Stress Tests

Whether you’re talking about elephants or angelfish, for most animals, distribution among species is uneven—there are a lot of rare species with very few members and a few common species with a lot of members. Recently, biology Associate Professor Sophia Passy discovered that this distribution might not be so random after all. Instead, it could be caused by environmental favorability and species’ stress tolerance.

Dr. Passy conducted a study of data sets from thousands of algal and fish communities in U.S. streams. Her results showed that in favorable, low-stress environments, freshwater communities experienced significantly lower disparity between common and rare species. Harsh, stressful environments, on the other hand, led to a decline in sensitive species and a greater disparity between common and rare species. The study was published in the scientific journal The American Naturalist.

“According to our framework, under harsh conditions, only a few tolerant species can grow large populations, while the remaining and sensitive species can be present in low numbers,” says Passy. “Under benign conditions, both tolerant and sensitive groups can reproduce and grow in numbers, giving rise to a much more equitable species abundance distribution with low disparity between common and rare species.”

Science Dean Morteza Khaledi believes Passy’s research could have large ramifications: “If the environment drives the species abundance distribution, then we could begin to predict which species might become extinct and move to protect them, which is a vital step forward.”


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