Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior News
Many animals have evolved to tolerate extreme environments, including being able to survive crushing pressures of ocean trenches, unforgiving heat of deserts, and limited oxygen high in the mountains. These animals are often highly specialized to live in these specific environments, limiting them from moving to new locations. Yet, there are rare examples of species that once lived in harsh environments but have since colonized more temperate settings.
Students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign once again hosted “Owl Night,” a public outreach event where people of all ages can learn about owl behavior and ecology, and if they’re lucky, see an owl up close. Owl Night takes place on two separate nights: November 1st at Kennekuk County Park, and November 8th at Homer Lake. At Owl Night, participants can learn about owls through a series of hands-on activities, including dissection of owl pellets, examination of owl feathers under a microscope, tracking owls by hand using radiotelemetry, and more!
Researchers have created a model that can calculate the energetics involved when one organism stabs another with its fangs, thorns, spines or other puncturing parts. Because the model can be applied to a variety of organisms, it will help scientists study and compare many types of biological puncturing tools, researchers said. It also will help engineers develop new systems to efficiently pierce materials or resist being pierced.
Longtime professor and director honored for research, teaching, and mentoringWhen Carla Eva Cáceres was a sophomore studying biology at the University of Michigan, she heard of an internship that would put her on a boat in Lake Michigan doing research. She hesitated.
In 1868, the naturalist Charles Darwin wrote that differences in plumage coloration between male and female birds of the same species were likely the result of sexual selection: Female birds – he used the peahen and peacock as an example – seemed to prefer the showiest males. A new study of thrushes offers evidence that another dynamic is at play, and helps explain why this phenomenon, called sexual dichromatism, is not universal among birds, its authors say.
Cowbirds need to grow up alongside two host nestlings — no more and no less — to maximize their own survival
The College of LAS has selected winners of this year’s teaching and advising awards. Professors, graduate students, lecturers, and an advisor have been honored for their service.
"The College of LAS is enormously proud of the recipients of this year's teaching and advising awards," said Venetria K. Patton, Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of LAS. "Teaching and advising has always required devotion, and in today's environment the challenge has been even greater. We're fortunate to have these compassionate, adaptable, and creative individuals working to make futures brighter for our students."
Nearly 20 new faculty have joined the College of LAS this fall, with their research and teaching interests ranging from African American religious diversity to the human brain and the role of law during periods of crisis. Daniel Miller is a new faculty member in the Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior
Females spend more time at nest after hearing cowbird alarm
Across North America, hundreds of bird species waste time and energy raising chicks that aren’t their own. They’re the victims of a “brood parasite” called the cowbird, which adds its own egg to their clutch, tricking another species into raising its offspring.
Animals can influence their offspring through multiple signals starting from fertilization to after birth. However, researchers have seldom looked at how these different signals work together to influence behavior. In a new study, postdoctoral researcher Jennifer Hellmann in the Bell Lab investigated how changes in sperm and paternal care influence the offspring of threespine sticklebacks.