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Featured Project

August 22, 2018

What would bears be without bees? EARS.

A noninvasive approach to monitor the health of Maine's black bear population


Most bears are monitored using radio-tracking collars. This technique is pretty costly, time-consuming, and can be a bit of a bear, for the bears. Particularly, the capturing and tranquilizing bit.

The Maine Cooperative Bear Study is trying to develop a new non-invasive monitoring method, with the help of some cutting-edge techniques.

Hair corrals are designed to gather valuable bear hair, by setting up baited areas encircled by barbed wire. The bears leave behind tufts of hair samples when they go under or over the barrier. These hairs are then used for DNA analysis to monitor the local bears' health, diets, and population size.

The funding will allow interns and field assistant Emily Higgins to set up 20 hair corrals. You can hear Emily describe the idea behind the experiment on their project page.

Featured Results

Crowdfunded scientific discoveries

Na-na-na-na-na-na-na batman

New clues for why this bat species is naturally resistant to White-Nose Syndrome

So far, more than 5 million bats have died from White-nose syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease that is wiping out bat populations and spreading rapidly. For some reason, one species, the Virginia big-eared bat, remained unaffected by the disease. In October of 2016, a project investigating why these bats are resistant to WNS won the Wildlife Disease Challenge Grant, with support from 110 backers.

In May, Hazel Barton's lab shared a report with new clues to this mystery. This species of bats are usually found covered in yellow, waxy substance that makes bats feel greasy when handled. The team hypothesized that a yeast species Debaryomyces udenii may be producing the yellow gunk and preventing the filamentous fungi that causes WNS from growing.

The team took 54 swab samples from the fur of various WNS-positive bat species, including Virginia big-eared bats. Surprisingly, the results indicate that the yeast D. udenii is not producing the yellow gunk. Instead, the data suggest that the yellow gunk found on the Virginia big-eared bats may be anti-fungal. More research is needed!

More Science

New Projects This Week




Today, we're excited to share the launch of the Wildlife Disease Association Challenge Grant, an official partnership between the Wildlife Disease Association and Experiment.

The Wildlife Disease Association is a 67-year old non-profit member organization founded with a mission to acquire, disseminate and apply knowledge of the health and diseases of wild animals.


This challenge sees 16 exciting research projects from Oxford to Sydney. There's koalas, wombats, capuchins, and salamanders, and they all need help tackling emerging threats. Check out the projects launching in the challenge here.

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