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From the Field

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  • Sara Johnson points to a federally endangered Zapata bladderpod specimen growing in the field

    Searching the Texas brushland for a rare, temperamental plant

    INHS plant ecologist Sara Johnson describes driving and trekking through the south Texas heat in search of the federally endangered Zapata bladderpod, Physaria thamnophila. This rare plant, a member of the mustard family, is found in only two counties in the United States.

  • IRBS staffer holds a large-mouth bass

    60+ years of monitoring large river fishes in Illinois

    For Outdoor Illinois Journal, INHS scientists Andrya Whitten, Jason DeBoer, and Jim Lamer describe how INHS has been monitoring large-river fishes in Illinois, tracking changes in the Illinois River fish community, water quality and habitat, since 1957.

  • Roundpod primrose-willow (Ludwigia sphaerocarpa). Photo by Paul Marcum

    Botanists discover plant not seen in Illinois for more than 160 years

    The roundpod primrose-willow had not been seen in Illinois in more than 160 years, until INHS botanists Paul Marcum, Eric Ulaszek, and David Ketzner surveyed a tract of Pope County that had been purchased by the Illinois Audubon Society in 2019 and 2020. 

    “It was the highlight of my career in Illinois,” said Marcum. “It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”

  • silvery salamander Vermilion County Illinois

    Silvery salamander

    In a video produced by Outdoor Illinois, INHS aquatic ecologist/herpetologist Andrew Kuhns describes his work in conservation and transportation compliance. He provides an overview of a project, funded by a State Wildlife Grant, to study the population demographics of the Illinois-endangered silvery salamander. Watch the team set up a drift fence to intercept salamanders migrating to their breeding pond. After collecting information, which will aid researchers in assessing population sizes, growth of individuals, and reproduction, the salamanders are released to the breeding pond.

  • A 4-day old whip-poor-will chick. Like their parents, developing chicks have cryptic coloration that allows them to go unseen on the ground.

    Waiting for the sun to set to find a rare bird

    When most people are just getting home from their workdays, I’m about to start mine. I am a researcher studying the breeding behavior of the Eastern whip-poor-will (Antrostomus vociferus), a cryptic bird that is primarily active after sunset as it forages on the wing for moths. So – for the summer, at least – I also am nocturnal.

  • Blanding's turtle

    A celebration of the turtles at Nachusa Grasslands

    Nachusa Grasslands provides important habitat for five different turtle species—the midland painted turtle, common snapping turtle, eastern spiny softshell, ornate box turtle, and Blanding’s turtle. Learn about these cool creatures with this post by INHS Population and Community Ecology Lab doctoral student Devin Edmonds!

  • white-throated sparrow

    Bird banding for conservation

    The Phillips Tract Migratory Bird Banding Station in Urbana, Illinois, is up and running for the spring season!

  • cute cuddly brown bat

    What’s the deal with bats and coronavirus?

    In Outdoor Magazine, INHS bat biologist Tara C. Hohoff writes about how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated negative impressions about bats and shares ways we can support bats in Illinois. 

  • Blue and green-winted teal and northern pintail seen on the Illinois River during an aerial waterfowl inventory over Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge in Havana.

    Counting ducks from 500 feet above

    Josh Osborn has a unique job. The Navy veteran turned ecologist leads the waterfowl aerial inventories from the Illinois Natural History Survey's Forbes Biological Station in Havana. Taking to the skies every autumn and spring during migration seasons, Osborn makes regular educated estimates of the number and types of birds flocking along 212 miles of the Illinois River and 214 miles of the Mississippi River.

  • Fred Delcomyn and James Ellis

    Building back a tiny piece of prairie

    Fred Delcomyn and James Ellis are the authors of “A Backyard Prairie,” a book about a 3-acre swath of prairie that Fred and Nancy Delcomyn began installing near their home.

  • round silver tag on a decaying tree

    Exploring the remnants of an ancient forest

    Get a glimpse of Trelease Woods and Brownfield Woods—two ancient 60-acre forests preserved by the University of Illinois for teaching and research purposes—in this behind the scenes feature!

  • Holly Tuten in tick hunting gear

    Hunting a creature that hunts me

    INHS vector ecologist Holly Tuten describes her work at "tick ground zero," investigating Heartland virus in Illinois ticks.

  • pile asian carp

    IRBS has record-breaking Asian carp harvest

    The Illinois River Biological Station’s (IRBS) Upper Mississippi River Asian carp removal crew partnered with commercial fishermen to remove a record-breaking 87,500 pounds of silver, bighead, and grass carp from the Mississippi River as part of their annual intensive Asian carp harvest.

  • scientist holding large paddlefish

    American paddlefish

    Learn about the American paddlefish—also called the spoonbill, spoonbill cat, shovelnose cat, and boneless cat—from the INHS Great Rivers Field Station!

  • eastern red bat

    Catching bats for conservation

    Go behind the scenes with a team of INHS mammalogists as they survey and study bats roosting in a Missouri mine, endangered Indiana bats filling the twilight sky above them.

  • breeding male bowfin with blue mouth


    Learn about bowfin, a prehistoric fish with a native range spanning much of eastern North America, from the INHS Great Rivers Field Station!

  • channel catfish

    Channel Catfish

    Learn about the channel catfish, also known as the spotted catfish, fiddler, lady cat, chucklehead catfish, willow cat, and even blue cat, from the INHS Great Rivers Field Station!

  • ornate box turtle

    The last turtle in the prairie

    Devin Edmonds studied a few of the last Ornate Box Turtle strongholds in Illinois. The baby turtle in the photo is one of only a handful of hatchlings he found in three years of searching.

  • Asian carp species

    Asian carp species

    “Asian carp” is the collective term that refers to bighead carp, silver carp, black carp, and grass carp. These invasive species were originally brought into the United States for aquaculture in the 1960s and 1970s, but through flooding, legal releases, and illegal releases, they have become established in the Mississippi and Illinois rivers and beyond.

  • spotted lanternfly

    Illinois Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey (CAPS)

    Kelly A. Estes serves as state survey coordinator of the Illinois Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey (CAPS) with the Illinois Natural History Survey. Kelly recently answered a few questions regarding her work on agricultural pests.

  • big brown bat

    Five reasons to love bats

  • probable big brown bat

    Surveying Illinois bridges for bats

  • The Natural Resources Studies Annex main genetics lab

    The Annex apparition

  • A dirty baby doll found in the DuPage River in Illinois

    Baby doll heads, bizarre bottles, and other river booty

  • bat with wing labels

    Bat hands

  • green vegetation grows on either side of a narrow elevated wooden path

    Finding one elusive bird

  • a Kirtlands snake rests atop an artificial cover object

    Unearthing a fossorial snake

  • larval lone star ticks with key for scale

    It's the season for larval lone star ticks!

  • Kylee Noel with a mosquito cage colony

    Investigating mosquito insecticide resistance in Illinois

  • Someone holding a Blanding Turtle

    Gathering data to save a rare turtle

    Two weeks each month from May to October INHS scientists visit Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area to monitor the wetlands' turtles. They are particularly interested in the endangered Blanding’s turtle. 

  • fireflies light up the sky

    Light up the night

  • monarch on liatris

    Adventure on July 21, 2020

  • hand holding white lady's-slipper orchid blossom

    White lady’s-slipper orchid

  • zooplankton


  • eastern musk turtle

    Eastern musk turtle

    Learn about the eastern musk turtle, a small turtle native to much of eastern North America.

  • tadpole madtom

    Tadpole madtom

  • redspotted sunfish

    Redspotted sunfish

  • smallmouth buffalo

    Smallmouth buffalo

  • scientist holding freshwater drum

    Freshwater drum

  • diamond-backed watersnake


  • red swamp crayfish

    Red swamp crayfish

  • spiny softshell turtle

    Spiny softshell turtle

  • scientist holding shorthead redhorse

    Shorthead redhorse

  • bloodroot blooms


  • 2 twinleaf flowers


  • flathead catfish head

    Flathead catfish

  • falcate orangetip butterfly

    Spring ephemeral butterflies

  • northern hog sucker

    Northern Hog Sucker

  • pumpkinseed sunfish


  • Bowfin mouth