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Conservation

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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Illinois study suggests the humble minnow can take the heat(wave)

URBANA, Ill. – Humans aren’t the only ones suffering through unprecedented heatwaves in a warming climate. Consider the humble minnow. These tiny fish represent the all-important base of the food chain in many freshwater ecosystems. And like all fish, minnows adjust their body temperature to match their surroundings. As climate change turns up the heat, could minnows cook?

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Waiting for the sun to set to find a rare bird

When most people are just getting home from their workdays, I’m about to start mine. I am a researcher studying the breeding behavior of the Eastern whip-poor-will (Antrostomus vociferus), a cryptic bird that is primarily active after sunset as it forages on the wing for moths. So – for the summer, at least – I also am nocturnal.

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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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Collaboration with Mexico will help conserve grassland birds

Ensuring long term sustainability is the goal of College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) professor Mike Ward’s ongoing work to track and study grassland birds that migrate between the United States and Mexico.  

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Landowners: Learn forest management with U of I

URBANA, Ill. – Buying and maintaining forested land can be daunting if landowners don’t know how to manage it. Fortunately, a new University of Illinois outreach program is here to help.

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Building a better bat box: Temperature variation in rocket box designs

URBANA, Ill. – Bat box designs vary widely, but many commercial varieties remain untested and risk cooking the animals they’re designed to shelter. Often small and painted dark colors, these boxes may rise to dangerous temperatures on sunny days in summer, putting mom and pup in harm’s way.

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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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Brawn honored as inaugural Levenick Chair in Sustainability

URBANA, Ill. – In January 2020, professor Jeffrey Brawn was named the inaugural Stuart L. and Nancy J. Levenick Chair in Sustainability, the first endowed chair in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES) at the University of Illinois. A pandemic-belated ceremony happened yesterday on the Urbana campus.

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