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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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Researchers overcome winking, napping pigs to prove brain test works

URBANA, Ill. – If you’ve ever been to an eye doctor, there’s a good chance you’ve felt the sudden puff of air to the eye that constitutes a traditional test for glaucoma. It’s no one’s favorite experience, but the puff is non-invasive and harmless.

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In pursuit of Indiana bats

An hour before the sun goes down, my colleagues and I arrive at our site: a human-made pond in the middle of the forest. The high-pitched croaking of Cope's gray treefrogs greets us as we get out of our truck. Surrounded by trees and full of salamanders, these ponds are an essential water resource for our forest-dependent bats. We do a brief survey of the site, then set up our mist nets around the pond’s perimeter. We’re hoping to catch our target species – the Indiana bat, Myotis sodalis.

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Male piglets less resilient to stress when moms get sick during pregnancy

URBANA, Ill. – When pigs get hit with significant illnesses during key stages of pregnancy, their immune response may negatively affect developing piglets, making them less productive on the farm. New research from the University of Illinois shows that when those piglets – especially males – experience a second stressor in early life, they are at higher risk of neurodevelopmental and other neurological anomalies, putting them at an even greater disadvantage in production settings.

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Genetic markers developed to census endangered rhinoceros

URBANA, Ill. -- Today, the Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) is critically endangered, with fewer than 100 individuals surviving in Indonesia on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. To ensure survival of the threatened species, accurate censusing is necessary to determine the genetic diversity of remaining populations for conservation and management plans. 

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New pig brain maps facilitate human neuroscience discoveries

URBANA, Ill. – When scientists need to understand the effects of new infant formula ingredients on brain development, it’s rarely possible for them to carry out initial safety studies with human subjects. After all, few parents are willing to hand over their newborns to test unproven ingredients.

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