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Animals

Bats’ midnight snacks reveal clues for managing endangered species

URBANA, Ill. – How do we bring threatened and endangered animals back from the brink? The task is never easy or simple, but one thing is undeniably true: If we don’t understand these animals and what they need to survive, we have little chance of success.

Saving bats, then, is arguably a trickier endeavor than for other species. After all, the cryptic critters only emerge at night and are highly mobile, making it difficult to track their movements and behavior.

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Bat box design, placement matter for energy balance in endangered bats

URBANA, Ill. – Imagine if you had to catch every bite of your dinner with your mouth, while flying, in the dark. You’d be exhausted, and probably pretty hungry. Though some bats go for sedentary insects, most catch their food on the wing every single night. Let that sink in.

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Protected tropical forest sees major bird declines over 40 years

URBANA, Ill. – Deep in a Panamanian rain forest, bird populations have been quietly declining for 44 years. A new University of Illinois-led study shows a whopping 70% of understory bird species declined in the forest between 1977 and 2020. And the vast majority of those are down by half or more.

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Overweight dogs respond well to high-protein, high-fiber diet

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A study of overweight dogs fed a reduced calorie, high-protein, high-fiber diet for 24 weeks found that the dogs’ body composition and inflammatory markers changed over time in ways that parallel the positive changes seen in humans on similar diets. The dogs achieved a healthier weight without losing too much muscle mass, and their serum triglycerides, insulin and inflammatory markers all decreased with weight loss.

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Endangered deer's prion gene could protect it from chronic wasting disease

URBANA, Ill. – China’s Père David’s deer was nearly gone in the late 1800s. Just 18 deer – the very last of their kind – were brought into captivity after the rest had been hunted to extinction. When 11 of the deer reproduced, the species had a chance. Today, after centuries of reintroductions and breeding under human care, the population sits at around 3,000.

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Sending up the bat signal on forest use by endangered species

URBANA, Ill. – Deep in an Indiana forest, a team of scientists skulked atop hillsides after dark. Carrying radios and antennas, they fanned out, positioning themselves on opposite ridges to wait and listen. Their quarry? Endangered Indiana bats and threatened northern long-eared bats.

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Anglers need tailored messaging to inspire action on invasive species

URBANA, Ill. – Once aquatic invasive species establish, they typically refuse to budge. That’s why it’s critical to prevent invasive quagga mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil, and other bad actors from getting established in the first place.

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Team discovers invasive-native crayfish hybrids in Missouri

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — In a study of crayfish in the Current River in southeastern Missouri, researchers discovered – almost by chance – that the virile crayfish, Faxonius virilis, was interbreeding with a native crayfish, potentially altering the native’s genetics, life history and ecology. Reported in the journal Aquatic Invasions, the study highlights the difficulty of detecting some of the consequences of biological invasions, the researchers say.

Read more from the Illinois News Bureau.

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Crayfish get more interesting at bigger parties, study suggests

URBANA, Ill. – In many North American lakes, a tiny clawed creature has become a big bully. The invasive rusty crayfish roams lakebeds, snapping up snails, bivalves, and water plants, cutting off food supplies for native crayfish and other animals. And when they’re feeling saucy, some mount daring raids on fish eggs, reducing sport-fish populations.

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Some birds steal hair from living mammals

URBANA, Ill. -- Dozens of online videos document an unusual behavior among tufted titmice and their closest bird kin. A bird will land on an unsuspecting mammal and, cautiously and stealthily, pluck out some of its hair.

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