Department of
Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior

Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior News

Study finds sexual lineage plays key role in transgenerational plasticity

A new pair of papers published in the Journal of Animal Ecology has shown that sexual lineage matters for how offspring receive adaptations from parents in stickleback fish. Researchers in the Bell Lab studied how parents who were exposed to predators passed the behavioral information to their offspring in different ways based on sex.

Have you become obsessed with bugs or hummingbirds? In the pandemic, you’re not alone.

In the midst of the grief, confusion and anger of the past few months, many Americans have developed a new obsession with the creepy little things in life, by which I mean bugs.

I’ve never heard so many people talking about bugs as I have through this spring and summer, never seen so many social media posts dedicated to tiny critters that buzz and crawl and sting.

In times of ecological uncertainty, brood parasites hedge their bets

Some birds lay their eggs in the nests of other bird species and let the host parents raise their young. A new study finds that in times of environmental flux, these brood parasites “diversify their portfolios,” minimizing the risks of their unorthodox lifestyle by increasing the number and variety of hosts they select as adoptive parents.

Study of giant ant heads using simple models may aid bio-inspired designs

Researchers have developed a simple model to study how ants balance their large heads relative to their body size. Such models may have useful applications in bio-inspired designs. They use a variety of modelling approaches to study form and function. By using a basic biomechanical model for studying body form and center of mass stability in ants, new research identifies the benefits of “simple models” and hope that it can be used for bio-inspired designs.

Cowbirds change their eggs’ sex ratio based on breeding time

Brown-headed cowbirds show a bias in the sex ratio of their offspring depending on the time of the breeding season, researchers report in a new study. More female than male offspring hatch early in the breeding season in May, and more male hatchlings emerge in July.

How Humanity Unleashed a Flood of New Diseases

What do Covid-19, Ebola, Lyme and AIDS have in common? They jumped to humans from animals after we started destroying habitats and ruining ecosystems.

SIB Director Carla Cáceres honored with Executive Officer Distinguished Leadership Award

Carla Cáceres, a professor of evolution, ecology and behavior and director of the School of Integrative Biology, ...received the Executive Officer Distinguished Leadership Award, which recognizes outstanding academic leadership and vision by an executive officer within a college or campus unit.

SIB's Commitment to Diversity and Equity

Dear SIB Community,

This past weekend, Chancellor Jones sent out an email with a powerful message of unity for this campus - we must come together and care for one another. He reminds us that the University of Illinois is a "community committed to the scholarship, engagement, equity, inclusion and leadership that dismantles systems that utilize power, privilege and violence to disenfranchise, diminish and destroy."

When warblers warn of cowbirds, blackbirds get the message

This is the story of three bird species and how they interact. The brown-headed cowbird plays the role of outlaw: It lays its eggs in other birds’ nests and lets them raise its young – often at the expense of the host’s nestlings. To combat this threat, yellow warblers have developed a special “seet” call that means, “Look out! Cowbird!”

In a new study, researchers Shelby Lawson and Mark Hauber at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign report that red-winged blackbirds respond to the seet call as if they know what it means.

Study tracks genomic changes that reinforce darter speciation

Researchers sequenced the genome of the orangethroat darter, pictured, and compared it with that of the rainbow darter, a closely related species. They also hybridized the two species to determine the factors that drive them to diverge.