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Illinois Natural History Survey

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  • Few Chicagoland wetlands left without non-native species, study finds

    The wetlands in and around Chicago are overwhelmingly invaded by non-native plants, according to a new study by University of Illinois researchers. The study, which pulls together species occurrence data from over 2,000 wetlands in the urban region, is the first to describe wetland invasion patterns on such a large scale in the Chicagoland area.

  • Winter tips for bird feeders

    Christopher Whelan, an avian biologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, recently offered some tips for keeping overwintering birds in your yard. The tips were featured in the Like an Eagle-Soar blog and were offered through the National Wildlife Association.

  • Winter bald eagle count a new record

    In an article published February 23, 2008 in The Daily Journal, Survey scientist Randy Nyboer discusses the this year's record bald eagle count. Though the count is unfinished, it has already surpassed previous records. Visit this website to view the complete article.

  • Corn rootworm management webinar

    INHS Behavioral Entomologist Joe Spencer presented a talk on "Rootworm Biology and Behavior" in the webinar "Corn rootworm Management in the Transgenic Era." Over 300 people attended this webinar, archived at the link below.

  • Scientists seeking rare river crayfish aren't just kicking rocks

  • White Nose Syndrome confirmed in Illinois

    INHS researchers and their collaborators have confirmed the presence of White Nose Syndrome (WNS)—a disease fatal to several of our bat species—in Illinois. Read more about WNS and the work INHS researchers are doing to understand the disease on the INHS website.

  • Conservation Maven discusses Dr. Jeff Matthews' paper

    Conservation Maven, a website for the conservation community, ran a post discussing a recent paper entitled, "Rate of succession in restored wetlands and the role of site context," co-authored by Dr. Matthews, INHS wetland plant ecologist, and Dr. Anton Endress, INHS affiliate. Conservation Maven writes that the paper will have implications for the Clean Water Act as all the wetlands used in the study were restored to comply with section 404 of the CWA.

  • INHS partnership offers undergraduates research experiences in ecology

    The Illinois Natural History Survey will partner with Southern Illinois University Edwardsville on a three-year grant providing immersive research experiences to undergraduates in the areas of archaeology and ecology. Research opportunities will begin this summer.

  • New director starts May 1, 2008

  • On the hunt for first flower of spring

    Environmental Almanac, written by Rob Kanter, describes searching for skunk cabbage. Kanter, along with INHS Wetland Plant Ecologist Rick Larimore, headed out to the Middle Fork State Fish and Wildlife Area in Vermilion County to see this "first flower" of spring. Kanter and Larimore were successful in their quest to find skunk cabbage. Skunk cabbage is able to bloom so early in the year because it generates enough heat to grow in the frozen ground. It gets it's name from the rotting flesh smell it exudes to attract ground pollinating insects. 

  • Greater Prairie Chickens can't endure without human help

    Researchers at the Illinois Natural History Survey report that the greater prairie chicken cannot persist in Illinois without help.

  • Tarantulas in a pickle jar

    Tommy McElrath takes readers Behind the Scenes of the INHS insect collection. "Storing your dead tarantulas in a gallon-sized pickle jar is not the best solution to long-term preservation. Especially when those tarantulas are toe-tagged – like corpses in a morgue."

  • Become a citizen scientist for pollinators with University of Illinois

    University of Illinois Extension is calling all lovers of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators that keep our crops and gardens growing to join scientists in tracking their distribution and habitat use across the state, from the comfort of your home, school, or community garden.

  • INHS waterfowl biologists estimate over 100,000 snow geese at Thompson Lake

    Chris Hine and Randy Smith of the INHS Forbes Biological Field Station commented on the waterfowl surveys done during the recent migration. Over 100,000 snow geese, 15 species of ducks, two species of swan and 1,500 Canada and Greater White-Fronted Geese were found.

  • Variation in effectiveness of RNAi treatment in western corn rootworm

    INHS Behavioral Entomologist Joseph Spencer and his colleagues in Crop Sciences and Entomology recently released a study in the journal Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology with findings that there is variation in the effectiveness of RNAi treatments on western corn rootworm (WCR), a major agricultural pest.

  • 2010 Naturally Illinois Expo gets television coverage

    The 2010 Naturally Illinois Expo, sponsored by the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability, of which Illinois Natural History Survey is a part, has been receiving local television coverage. Clips of the shows can be seen on the WICD and WCIA (Anne Dill's segment is called "Turtles" and Rob Collins' is called "Mud to Parks") websites. Other media coverage includes the following:

  • NGRREC scientists to work with high school students to solve river issues

    Sixty high school students will gather with the researchers at the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC) to learn about solving river issues. The students will work together, using data from the researchers and develop critical thinking skills necessary to solve real-world problems.

  • INHS botanists reconstruct 226 year history of fire in Southern Illinois

    By looking at the scars in the growth rings of 36 old-growth post oak trees, INHS botanist Greg Spyreas, affiliate John Ebinger and Illinois State Museum botanist William McClain found that there had been more than 100 fires in Southern Illinois between the 1770s and 1996. This repeated burning stabilized prairies and kept the woodlands open until the mid-1800s when fires appear to have been suppressed by the settlers in the area for a 30 year period. Fire suppression altered the plant community by allowing fast-growing, shade-loving species to survive. The study was published in the journal Castanea. Read news coverage of the story by the Science BlogScience Codex, and Earth Times.

  • INRS Naturally Illinois Expo attracts thousands

    The Naturally Illinois Expo, held March 11th and 12th, was attended by a record 1700 students from 22 Illinois schools on Friday. On Saturday, many of these students returned to share the Expo with their families. There were 54 exhibits from the 5 surveys. INHS scientists provided exhibits on plants, backyard insects, fossil insects, turtles, mammals, birds, aquatic pollutants, mosquitoes and their diseases, crayfish, fish, mussels and exotic invasive species. Other favorites included Kids' Fossil Dig, Archaeological Dig, Weather on Your Birthday and Biofuels.

  • Thinking ahead: Corn rootworm management for 2018

    Illinois corn growers in the northern and central parts of the state have come to expect some rootworm damage, but University of Illinois entomologists say putting management plans in place now could help growers avoid major losses.

  • INHS now has Facebook presence and blog

    The Illinois Natural History Survey now has a Facebook page where readers can become fans and be kept up to date of the latest INHS happenings. Illinois Natural History Survey also a brand new blog that has short articles and information about the Survey.

  • Early Warm Weather brings early insects

    INHS Behavioral Entomologist Joe Spencer told WBEZ that the early warm weather means bugs can mature faster, allowing them to emerge much sooner than they are normally expected to, but this does not necessarily mean there will be more of them.

  • "Periodic table for flies" mapped

    The Fly Tree of Life project has mapped the 260-million-year evolution of the order Diptera. The 152,000 named species of flies are ecologically important as disease vectors, pollinators, and decomposers and this groundbreaking project will facilitate future research into the convergent evolution of traits such as blood feeding and wing-loss. Read the study's abstract here.

  • Steve Taylor discusses cave biology in two articles

    Dr. Steve Taylor was interviewed by Chris Young for an article that was picked up by GateHouse News Service and has appeared in both The Courier and The State Journal Register. In the article, Taylor discusses cave biology, including karst systems and what organisms are typically found inside Illinois caves. The article can be found at the following NewsBank links:

  • Preserving nature through art

    Smile Politely has an excellent article discussing the visiting art exhibit, "Nature Sketches by Gladys and Ruth Dudley", currently on display at the Forbes Natural History Building. In the article, INHS biological control specialist Sue Post discusses what makes the sketches in the collection so fascinating. The exhibit will be on display through the spring. No special arrangements or fees are needed to view the sketches, which on on display in the first-floor North West hallway.

  • Entomologists stifled by Indian bureaucracy

    An international collaboration to study insects in the Western Ghats mountains in southern India is stalled due to a hold up by the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA). INHS' Paul Tinerella and Michael Irwin are involved in trying to keep the project moving along. View the complete Nature article

  • Greg Sass and Kevin Irons on Outdoor Wisconsin

    INHS Illinois River Biological Station Director Greg Sass and affiliate Kevin Irons were visited by Outdoor Wisconsin reporter Dan Small in 2009. The video was aired recently. "Dan Small takes a tour of a portion of the Illinois River near Havana, Illinois, in search of the invasive silver Asian carp, with Kevin Irons, a biologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, and Dr. Greg Sass, who directs the Illinois River Biological Station."

  • Long-term fish monitoring in large rivers

    INHS scientists examined five long-term fish monitoring programs in large rivers in the U.S. They outline best practices in Fisheries Magazine.

  • The extinction of the passenger pigeon

    On Sept. 1, 1914, Martha, the last living passenger pigeon, died at the Cincinnati Zoo. This seemingly abundant bird had been decimated by hunting, leaving them vulnerable to other predators. Following the opening of an exhibit at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, INHS Ornithologist Kevin Johnson, who reconstructed the family tree of the passenger pigeon, was interviewed.

  • Local South Side prairie gets rejuvenation

    INHS Botanists and Restoration Ecologists led several prescribed burns this spring. Periodic burning helps to control unwanted species, return nutrients to the soil and is even necessary for some seeds to germinate. One prairie that was burned this spring is the prairie garden at South Side Elementary School, which was planted by INHS scientists 20 years ago as the first educational prairie in Champaign-Urbana. Also on the list of prairies burned this spring was a section of Barnhart Prairie, a Nature Preserve just south of Urbana.

  • Illinois Birds: A Century of Change receives more attention

    Co-author Mike Ward was interviewed by the Chicago Tribune about the recently published "Illinois Birds: A Century of Change." Mike Ward said that the results of the most recent studies were somewhat encouraging. "There's definitely reason to be concerned for certain species of birds, but I don't think we're at the worst point in the last 100 years. I think the worst point was definitely somewhere between the 1950s and now, when our waters were really contaminated and there was a wider use of nasty pesticides. There's reason for concern today, but on the flip side there are definitely triumphs."

  • INHS Traveling Science Center brings "trailer full of science"

    The INHS Traveling Science Center traveled to LaSalle County this week to share exhibits on Illinois Biodiversity and Rivers with middle school students from 5 schools. The Little Vermilion River Watershed Committee invited the TSC to visit the schools as part of their efforts to promote the importance of a healthy environment to their younger residents.

  • US Army Corps releases report on Asian carp and electric barriers

    The US Army Corps of Engineers released a report on the operation of the electric barrier system in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. This study focuses on the smaller individuals, which may be better able to cross the barriers. Prior research by Illinois Natural History Survey scientists about the efficacy of the electric barrier systems for adult fish is cited.

  • New lecture series named for renowned aquatic biologist

    In recognition of James Karr's contributions to aquatic biology and environmental management, a new James R. Karr Lecture in Aquatic Biology will kick off on Friday, April 14 with an inaugural address from its namesake.

  • Program gathers data to combat tickborne disease in Illinois

  • Digitization Project Finds Anthrax Samples in Collections

  • INHS scientists seek new sites for mussel relocation

    INHS researcher Jeremy Tiemann is part of a team working to relocate endangered mussels from a bridge construction site in Pennsylvania to Illinois rivers. The first mussels (relocated in 2010) were given PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tags to allow monitoring and after a year and a half, approximately 80% of the relocated mussels had survived. An additional 1200 were transplanted in 2012, and now, new locations are being sought for additional transplants.

  • Taylor interviewed for article on low-energy cave systems

    Dr. Steve Taylor, Illinois Natural History Survey, was interviewed for an article that was run in the Sunday edition of the Daily Herald. The newspaper, which is suburban Chicago's largest daily newspaper, published the article called, "Shedding some light on Illinois' caverns" in the April 5, 2009 edition. The article discusses karst systems, sinkholes, and mentions the federally endangered Illinois cave amphipod. The Newsbank article can be read at the following link: Shedding some light on Illinois' caverns.

  • Dinosaurs may have had lice

    A recent article in Biology Letters, authored by INHS Ornithologist Kevin Johnson and his colleagues Vincent Smith, Tom Ford, Paul Johnson, Kazunori Yoshizawa, and Jessica Light, reveals that the ancestors of the lice found on modern day birds and mammals began to diversify prior to the mass extinction of the dinosaurs at the Cretaceous–Palaeogene boundary, 65 million years ago.

  • Mosquito larvae exposed to stress may be better able to transmit viruses

    In a recently published article in Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, INHS Medical Entomologists Ephantus J. Muturi and Barry Alto revealed that exposing mosquito larvae to temperature and insecticide stress may actually increase their ability to transmit viruses. At 30°C but not at 20°C, Ae. aegypti larvae exposed to insecticide were more likely to transmit the virus compared to control treatments. These findings suggest that environmental factors experienced by aquatic stages of mosquitoes contribute to the risk of arbovirus transmission.

  • INHS deposits reports into IDEALS digital repository

    The tech reports which were digitized for Illinois Harvest are live in IDEALS. Here's the link to the INHS Community, which has the Tech Reports collection in it. The reports range from 1962 to 2007.

  • Tri-Point students work and learn with INHS herpetologists

    A group of students from Tri-Point Jr. High visited the herpetology collection at INHS and conducted field work with Herpetologist Andy Kuhns. The students were able to help with surveys for amphibians and reptiles at Ballard Nature Center. In addition to finding several species of reptiles and amphibians, the students learned about their habitats, biology and conservation.

  • Illinois River Biological Station and the Asian Carp in Discover Magazine

    INHS Illinois River Biological Station Director Thad Cook took a writer from Discover Magazine out on the Illinois River to experience the "flying carp." In addition to the ecological damages done by Silver carp, they also leap from the water when startled by approaching boats, which has led to many injuries. 

  • Largemouth Bass behavior inherited from parents, but also learned

    INHS Fisheries Geneticist Dave Phillipp and his lab have studied Largemouth Bass for decades. His findings, including that vulnerability to being caught by anglers is inherited and that bass can learn from negative experiences, were featured in a news story picked up by media across the country.

  • Waterfowl study helps evaluate Illinois River habitat

    INHS Waterfowl Biologists have been monitoring restored wetlands along the Illinois River to determine if restoration efforts have been successful for waterfowl populations. Chris Young of the State Journal Register went along and documented the diving duck surveys.

  • Morels in Illinois: first steps on the path to a new obsession

    Hunting for morels is a popular spring pastime for many. INHS Mycologist Andy Miller was consulted by Rob Kanter for an Environmental Almanac piece and revealed that there are at least 26 separate species of black morels and 16 species of yellow morel. Not mentioning specific locations, Andy gave tips to would-be hunters on where to look, such as moist areas near dead elm trees or living ash trees. Borrowing Rob Kanter's words of warning: Deadly poisonous mushrooms occur along with nonpoisonous ones throughout Illinois. Neither this article nor the accompanying photo is intended to enable beginners to distinguish between them.

  • Larvae from Dr. Alto's lab featured on

    Photos taken by University of Illinois postdoctoral researcher Alex Wild are featured on the On-line resource Wild visited the Medical Entomology lab at the Illinois Natural History Survey to take photos of mosquito larvae that Dr. Barry Alto is conducting research on. The photos can be seen at the "On Assignment: Mosquito Larvae" page at The article with Dr. Alto's research can be viewed starting May 18th in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

  • Research finds that male largemouth bass should be released quickly

    A recent study by INHS Sport Fisheries Ecologist Jeff Stein suggests that anglers involved in catch and release fishing should release male largemouth bass as quickly as possible to return to nest guarding. For more information, visit the Sportfish Ecology Lab website.

  • First comprehensive treatise on leafhopper genus Zyginama published

  • Waterfowl of Illinois—currently discounted

    Dr. Stephen A. Havera's books are now on sale. More information can be seen by viewing the order form (PDF document.) Waterfowl of Illinois order form (PDF).