School of
Integrative Biology

SIB News

Exploring the remnants of an ancient forest

At first glance, Trelease Woods looks like any other central Illinois woodland. There’s a well-worn track inside its fenced eastern edge, and the forest floor is littered with twigs and branches. But as I walk along the path with my companions, I notice that some of the trees are bigger than any I’ve seen in this area.

New imaging, machine-learning methods speed effort to reduce crops' need for water

Scientists have developed and deployed a series of new imaging and machine-learning tools to discover attributes that contribute to water-use efficiency in crop plants during photosynthesis and to reveal the genetic basis of variation in those traits.

Hunting a creature that hunts me

It’s a sweltering summer afternoon. I’m pushing aside tree limbs and crunching leaves to get back to the trap that I baited two hours ago with dry ice to attract ticks. When I get closer, I can see a gossamer mist hovering over a bright white cloth in the dark underbrush. Dry ice “sublimates” in the open air, going from a solid to a gaseous state. It gives off a vapor of carbon dioxide gas that’s denser than the air, mimicking the breath of a tick host resting on the ground.

Dynamic photosynthesis model simulates 10-20 percent yield increase

A team from the University of Illinois has developed a model that treats photosynthesis as a dynamic process rather than an activity that either is or is not happening.

Some birds steal hair from living mammals

Dozens of online videos document an unusual behavior among tufted titmice and their closest bird kin. A bird will land on an unsuspecting mammal and, cautiously and stealthily, pluck out some of its hair.

Intact wilderness - Exploring the cloudiest forest in Central America

The Fortuna Hydrological Reserve hosts one third of Panama’s tree species, a variety of fungi waiting to be discovered and a great potential to offset global warming

Avian Brood Parasites Are About to Have Their Adaptability Tested

The future of parasitic birds, which lay their eggs in other nests, is totally dependent on their hosts' ability to adjust to climate change.

Imagine it’s spring in the year 2048. A Common Cuckoo returns from Africa to her breeding grounds in Europe, just as her ancestors have for thousands of years—except that lately the species has arrived earlier.

Early acoustic experiences alter methylation in songbird embryo's forebrain

Researchers at University of Illinois and City University of New York have recently carried out a study investigating the effects of early acoustic experiences on gene activation in songbirds. Their paper, published in Elsevier's journal Neuroscience Letters, shows that the early exposure to salient acoustic cues can significantly influence the development of social behaviors in songbirds.

Introducing the 11 Illinois students selected as Mayo Clinic's 2021 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows

Each year, Mayo Clinic invites around 180 undergraduates from across the nation to participate in their Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program. Sponsored by the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, this 10-week program gives undergraduates a chance to work at the forefront of biomedical research at one of the world’s leading medical centers.

Solar farms could double as pollinator food supplies

Pollinator habitats and solar farms may seem like ecologically great neighbors, but we still don't understand very much about that relationship. A team of researchers recently published a paper surveying the ins and outs of keeping solar production alongside the kinds of plants that pollinators like bees and butterflies love. The paper notes that there's a good amount of potential here, but more work needs to be done to fully understand the potential partnership.