March 16, 2018
Urban Coyote Project’s Website Has New Look
By Shane McKenzie/McGraw
For nearly 18   years, Dr. Stanley Gehrt, McGraw’s Director of Wildlife Research, and the Urban Coyote Project based at McGraw have studied the coyotes that call Chicago and its suburbs home. The findings are published in a multitude of peer-reviewed journals, but we also felt the need to share with a broader audience.

To that end, the Urban Coyote Project created and now has totally revamped www.urbancoyoteresearch.com , a web-based resource for everything urban coyote.

The website features details on the coyote study, snapshot information about some of the coyotes being tracked, and general information about coyotes, particularly advice about avoiding conflicts with them.
In addition, the site has links to news media to news coverage about the project, including Dr. Gehrt’s recent interview on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight show, which aired Dec. 27, 2017.
Research Uncovers Parasite that Devastates Bobwhites
By Tom Davis/Sporting Classics
Photo by Justabirdthing/flickr
The most important advance in 80-plus years in our understanding of bobwhite quail ecology—or, more to the point, bobwhite quail  mortality —has been the discovery that a certain parasitic eyeworm,  Oxyspirura petrowi , not only has the potential to devastate quail populations on a landscape scale, but to do so with breathtaking, even frightening, rapidity. While this parasite has been known to science for some time, it’s only been within the last seven years that researchers have taken a hard look at it.

And they’ve been blown away by what they’ve found.

For starters, the eyeworm turned out to be vastly more debilitating than was previously believed. It attaches to the back of the eye and to the nasal membranes, where it feeds ravenously on its host’s blood. (It’s analogous in this respect to a hookworm in dogs.) An infestation of eyeworms will impair vision and breathing, cause anemia, and in general weaken the affected bird to the point that it becomes irresistibly easy pickings for predators.

The real game-changer, though, was the discovery that once the eyeworm becomes established in a   population of quail, it can spread with dizzying speed.
Want More Backyard Birds? Grow Native Plants
By Kathi Borgmann/Cornell Lab
Photo by James Mothershead/flickr
Taking in the beautiful purple blossoms as the scent of lilac floats on the air seems like a pretty idyllic backyard setting, but new research shows that not all plants are equal. That pretty lilac, porcelain berry, fragrant bush honeysuckle, and ruby red Japanese maple in your yard might look nice, but non-native plants like these consistently have fewer caterpillars than native plants, according to new research published in  Biological Conservation . And that means less food for birds.

While fewer insects may seem like a good thing to some, Desiree Narango, a graduate student at the University of Delaware and lead author of the study, found that where there are more non-native plants, one of our common backyard birds, the Carolina Chickadee, stays away. Non-native plants don’t have enough caterpillars, the chickadee’s primary source of food during the summer months, to feed them.
Chesapeake Seagrass Revival Raises Hopes of Possible Recovery
By Dan Charles/NPR
Photo by NASA/flickr
For scientists who monitor the health of the Chesapeake Bay, the nation's largest estuary, simply watching grass grow underwater can be very, very exciting.

The floor of the Chesapeake Bay off Solomon's Island "had no grass since 1972," says  Robert Orth , a marine scientist at the College of William & Mary, and there's a undertone of amazement in his voice. "It was just last year, for the first time, we saw small patches of grass appear in front of the lab. Truly remarkable."

"We have seen the development of [seagrass] beds the last few years where we've never seen them before," Orth continues. "So the plants are telling us that the conditions are improving."

This month, Orth and a dozen other scientists  published  results from years of monitoring seagrass in the Chesapeake. And the news is good. The area covered by beds of seagrass has expanded dramatically over the past 30 years.

There have been setbacks during years, but  Jonathan Lefcheck , the lead author of the new study, from the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science, says they were caused by short-term changes in weather. After accounting for those effects, he says, there's still a long-term trend of increasing seagrass cover.
In Georgia, Novel Bid to Ease Conservation Funding Shortfalls
By Kim Jensen/TRCP
Photo by Byron Reese/flickr
It’s no secret that we’re headed for a conservation funding shortfall in America. Even as sportsmen and women  willingly raise our own hunting and fishing license fees , the decline in participation in our sports has  real consequences for federal funding models  and the state-level agencies that depend on federal dollars to manage wildlife. Federal land managers tasked with maintaining public access and improving habitat  could soon see substantial budget cuts, as well .

Many conservation champions are working on new and alternative sources of funding, and some state initiatives may serve as inspiration. In fact, a positive model for the nation is moving through the Georgia state legislature right now.

The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act would dedicate a portion of the current sales tax on outdoor recreation equipment to land conservation. Part of the goal of the legislation is to improve water quality, restore wildlife habitat, and increase public access to hunting and fishing. This dedicated source of funding would mean roughly $20 million in additional funding each year would go toward conservation efforts in the state.
“Perhaps I should not have been a fisherman, he thought. But that was the thing that I was born for.”



- Ernest Hemingway
To read past McGraw Reports click here.