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Environment

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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Nitrous oxide emissions from Corn Belt soils spike when soils freeze, thaw

URBANA, Ill. – Nitrous oxide may be much less abundant in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, but as a greenhouse gas, it’s a doozy. With a potency 300 times greater than CO2, nitrous oxide’s warming potential, especially via agriculture, demands attention.

University of Illinois and University of Minnesota researchers are answering the call. In a new study, they document an overlooked but crucial timeframe for nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions in U.S. Midwest agricultural systems: the non-growing season.

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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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How do we measure community disaster resilience?

In a new study, retired Illinois State Water Survey engineer Sally McConkey and Eric R. Larson, a professor of natural resources and environmental sciences at the U. of I., examined the metrics used at a county scale for national assessments to determine whether communities are prepared to withstand and recover from natural disasters such as floods and fires. McConkey spoke to News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about what they found. 

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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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How much spring nitrogen to apply? Pre-planting weather may provide a clue

URBANA, Ill. – With the rising cost of nitrogen fertilizer and its impacts on air and water quality, University of Illinois researchers want to help farmers make more informed fertilizer rate decisions. Their latest modeling effort aims to do that by examining the role of pre-growing season weather on soil nitrogen dynamics and end-of-season corn yield.

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NRES graduate student will study bees in Benin thanks to Fulbright grant

Lauren Lynch is one of 16 Illinois students and recent graduates to win Fulbright grants to pursue international education, research, and teaching experiences around the world this coming year. Lynch is completing her doctorate in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and in wildlife and fisheries conservation from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a master’s in natural resource management from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

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Producers and consumers must share burden of global plastic packaging waste

URBANA, Ill. – Plastic packaging waste is everywhere. Our plastic bottles, food wrappings, and grocery bags litter the landscape and pollute the global environment.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area twice size of Texas, consists of plastic waste from all over the world, carried by currents to converge in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. The floating waste breaks down into microplastics, which are consumed by fish and in turn by humans who eat those fish.

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Study: Proposed nitrogen fertilizer policies could protect farmer profits, environment

URBANA, Ill. – Nitrogen fertilizer has major implications for crop yields and environmental health, specifically water quality in the Gulf of Mexico. Federal and state governments have shied away from regulating nitrogen fertilizer use, but voluntary and incentives-based programs have not been particularly successful; the oxygen-starved “dead zone” in the Gulf remains much larger than goals set by the federal-state Hypoxia Task Force.

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Sandy Dall’erba receives Fulbright award towards global water conservation

URBANA, Ill. – Sandy Dall’erba, professor of agricultural and consumer economics and co-founder of the Center for Climate, Regional, Environmental and Trade Economics (CREATE) at the University of Illinois, has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award for the 2022-2023 academic year from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

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