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Dr. Ty Hedrick research in PNAS, “It pays to follow the leader: Metabolic cost of flight is lower for trailing birds in small groups”

June 19, 2024

Many bird species commonly aggregate in flocks for reasons ranging from predator defense to navigation. Available evidence suggests that certain types of flocks—the V and echelon formations of large birds—may provide a benefit that reduces the aerodynamic cost of flight, whereas cluster flocks typical of smaller birds may increase flight costs. However, metabolic flight costs have not been directly measured in any of these group flight contexts [Zhang and Lauder, J. Exp. Biol. 226, jeb245617 (2023)]. Here, we measured the energetic benefits of flight in small groups of two or three birds and the requirements for realizing those benefits, using metabolic energy expenditure and flight position measurements from European Starlings flying in a wind tunnel.


Salomé Jaramillo Gil (Bruno Lab) Featured in UNC Research!

June 7, 2024

Salomé Jaramillo Gil’s research journey began during her undergraduate studies in Colombia, where she studied the habitat preferences of the yellow stingray in the Caribbean. Then, she moved to Mexico, where she pursued a master’s degree in marine ecology, affording her the opportunity to study whale sharks’ movements in the Gulf of California. Now, as a Fulbright scholar, she is embarking on her PhD in biology at UNC-Chapel Hill under the mentorship of biology professor John Bruno. Her doctoral research is taking her to the Galápagos Islands, where she is focusing on the behavior and ecology — the relationship between an organism and its environment — of hammerhead sharks and eagle rays.

We asked Salomé about her research and experience in the archipelago. READ MORE

Biology Staff Member Honored for ‘Herculean’ Work

May 15, 2024

In 1981, her senior year, Summer Montgomery took a class unrelated to her major in radio, television and motion pictures: Botany 10. Now, 43 years later, Montgomery works as a student service specialist for UNC-Chapel Hill’s biology department in Coker Hall, just down the hall from where that class was held in Room 201.

The botany course’s instructor made a big impact on the young Tar Heel.

“His name was Dr. William Koch, but he made sure everyone called him Willy,” Montgomery said. “He taught me how to think outside of the box, expand my mind and realize that it’s never too late to learn something new.”

Montgomery credits much of her personal success to this advice. That success includes the 2024 Massey Award, which honors “unusual, meritorious or superior contributions” by University employees.


Hollings Scholarship Awarded to Three UNC-CH Undergraduate Researchers

May 3, 2024

Congratulations to Clara DiVincenzo, Lucy Henthorn, and Isabel Leonard, who were recently awarded the prestigious National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship!

Clara DiVincenzo is a sophomore at UNC majoring in Biology and Statistics and Analytics with a minor in Marine Sciences. At UNC, she is a Buckley Public Service Scholar, Biology Ambassador, Biology Peer Instructor, and Morehead-Cain Scholar. Her research in the Castillo Lab in the Department of Earth, Marine, and Environmental Sciences focuses on the molecular mechanisms of coral-algal symbioses.

Lucy Henthorn is currently a sophomore studying Environmental Science and Marine Science at UNC. Her current research focuses on the Thermal Limits of different North Atlantic fish species and how acclimation temperature affects their thermal limits, and she plans to write an Honors Thesis focused on predicting the migration and habitat ranges of these fish species based on current climate change models.

Isabel Leonard is currently a sophomore majoring in biology and minoring in marine science. As a part of her NOAA Hollings application, Isabel focused on an independent research project about Queen conch conservation in the Bahamas that she headed from high school and carried into her first year here at UNC. Her research centered around finding ways to prevent overfishing using citizen science by employing commercial fishermen in collecting data about conch sexual maturity. Isabel hopes to be able to continue research like this on a higher level during her internship at a NOAA facility next summer.


Recent Publications by Xiao Feng!

April 25, 2024

Dr. Feng and his lab have been featured in several recent publications. Below are a couple of highlights:

  • Rethinking ecological niches and geographic distributions in face of pervasive human influence in the Anthropocene, Biological Reviews – a theoretical work (termed HiBAM) about new considerations of ecological niche in the world of increasing human impacts.
  • Phenological similarity and distinctiveness facilitate plant invasions, Global Ecology and Biogeography – investigates how does the timing of flowering affect plant invasion success