Department of
Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior

Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior News

Students host Owl Night outreach event for second year, and it’s a real hoot!

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!

Model calculates energetics of piercing fangs, claws and other biological weapons

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.

Carla Cáceres named G. William Arends Professor in Integrative Biology

Longtime professor and director honored for research, teaching, and mentoring

When 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.

Male/female plumage differences in thrushes promote species recognition

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.

Cowbird Chicks Must Adopt ‘The Goldilocks Principle’ To Boost Survival

Cowbirds need to grow up alongside two host nestlings — no more and no less — to maximize their own survival

College of LAS names teaching and advising award winners

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."

New faculty member launches career in LAS

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

Yellow warblers remember warning calls 1 day later, suggesting long-term memory

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.

Can parental care influence sperm-mediated effects in threespine sticklebacks?

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.

Staging a threatening encounter at a blackbird nest

It’s early morning, about 6 a.m. A light fog has settled over the marsh. I park my car, step out and double-check my backpack for all the necessary equipment before heading out.

After a short walk on a narrow paved path, I veer into the unmarked marsh. Water pools around my muck boots and a cacophony of bird calls rings in my ears. In the distance, I see a waving band of neon pink – a flag marking the location of a red-winged blackbird nest that my colleagues and I discovered yesterday.