URBANA, Ill. – Rivers split across mountaintops and other geographic barriers may flow only a few miles from one another, but to the aquatic creatures in those waters, the separation could represent millions of years of evolutionary time. So, when an angler or a curious child moves a fish from one side of the mountain or one side of the country to the other, it’s a very big deal to the fish. Some may discover a competitive advantage in a new stream, potentially disrupting eons-old ecological hierarchies.
URBANA, Ill. – Bats help keep forests growing. Without bats to hold their populations in check, insects that munch on tree seedlings go wild, doing three to nine times more damage than when bats are on the scene. That’s according to a groundbreaking new study from the University of Illinois.
URBANA, Ill. – Chronic wasting disease, the prion disease affecting white-tailed deer and other cervids, is spreading. With documented cases in 29 U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, three Scandinavian countries, and South Korea, free-ranging and captive cervids are under threat. Efforts to conserve endangered deer against this backdrop are understandably fraught.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.