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Illinois Natural History Survey

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  • Researchers photograph bats under bridges with a borescope

  • Discover your inner scientist at WeDigBio Transcriptithon

    Illinois Natural History Survey Herbarium invites volunteers to help transform the handwritten or typewritten data sequestered on the labels of Plant Biology Collection specimens into an open, globally accessible, digital resource.

  • Researchers rescued stranded mussels on the Vermilion River

  • It's mussel time!

  • For now, Illinois’ imperiled eastern massasauga rattlesnakes retain their genetic diversity

    Habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and the loss of genetic diversity are the three main factors driving the extinction of many wild species, and the few eastern massasauga rattlesnakes remaining in Illinois have certainly suffered two of the three. A long-term study of these snakes reveals, however, that – despite their alarming decline in numbers – they have retained a surprising amount of genetic diversity.

  • Friendlier fish may be quicker to take the bait

    The bluegill on your dinner plate might have been more social than the rest of its group, according to a new study from the University of Illinois, and its removal from the lake could mean major changes for the remaining population.

  • A donation for the ages

    A recent gift of thousands of fossils provides insights about a dynamic stage in the climatic evolution of North America.

  • Researchers find link between avian malarial infections and body condition in migrating ducks

  • Eades wins award for efforts in the field of biodiversity informatics

  • Endangered bumblebees to be counted and studied this summer

  • Get to know incoming INHS director Eric Schauber

    Incoming INHS director Eric Schauber discusses what excites him about the Natural History Survey, what drew him to a career in wildlife science and ecology, and how he spends his free time. 

  • Searching for Turtles in a Sea of Grass

    Members of the INHS Population and Community Ecology Lab surveyed two of the largest known Ornate Box Turtle sites with the goal of finding, measuring, and marking as many turtles as possible.

  • Eric Schauber to helm Illinois Natural History Survey

    Eric Schauber, an animal ecologist currently at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, has been selected as the next director of the Prairie Research Institute’s Illinois Natural History Survey. Schauber will begin his appointment on July 1, 2018.

  • PhD entomology student receives 2018 Luckmann Award

  • 2018 Celebration of Excellence

    On April 11, the Prairie Research Institute honored employees for their outstanding achievements and excellent work. Selection committees composed of staff from across the organization reviewed multiple strong nominations before selecting the 2018 honorees.

  • Double the traps, double the turkeys

  • Program gathers data to combat tickborne disease in Illinois

  • Research team examines incubation temperatures for robin eggs

  • 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.

  • Rising temperatures could benefit the Snapping Turtle

    The size and quantity of eggs produced by the Common Snapping Turtle may vary with fall and spring temperatures, according to a new study by Earlham College and INHS researchers.

  • Luckmann award funds students’ professional conference participation

  • 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."

  • Soil temperatures this winter in Illinois were warmer than normal

  • Carp play a role in disseminating plant seeds in the Illinois River

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

  • 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.

  • Soil characteristics may be related to chronic wasting disease persistence, study finds

    Deer infected with chronic wasting disease are doomed to a slow and certain death, eventually wasting away as they lose the ability to eat and drink. There is no cure and no vaccine, and the number of infected deer continues to rise every year. But University of Illinois scientists recently published a new study that could help explain the movement of the disease across the landscape.

  • Scientists find new fungi at the bottom of the Great Lakes

    Far beneath the hulls of sailing ships on the Great Lakes are sediment habitats active with what may one day prove to be a priceless treasure. University of Illinois scientists hope that freshwater fungi inventoried in a new study might potentially contribute to a future treatment for childhood cancer.

  • Illinois stream fauna: A look back at pre-settlement biodiversity

    INHS researchers used species record data from INHS research collections, other museums, and trusted sources to model and predict the historical distributions of three main aquatic groups—freshwater mussels, stoneflies, and fish.

  • INHS plant ecologist finds that many retailers sell mislabeled invasive vines

    Gardeners hoping to celebrate the beauty of American bittersweet — a native vine that produces orange berries in the fall and is used for wreaths — may be unwittingly buying an invasive bittersweet instead. That’s because many Midwestern retailers are selling oriental bittersweet with labels misidentifying it as the native plant, researchers report.

  • Weightless in San Luis Potosi

    Field biologist Jeremy Tiemann describes a recent trip to the Valles River basin in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi to collect freshwater mussels. 

  • INHS Interim Director reflects back on her career in science

    December 31st marks the end of an era for insect pathologist Lee Solter. She will be retiring from the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), an organization she has dedicated more than 30 years of service to as a research scientist.

  • Exploring personality effects in largemouth bass

    INHS studies have shown that largemouth bass have distinct personalities and that these different types affect predator-prey interactions and possibly habitat use. The explorers tend to have a relatively indiscriminant diet, consuming any prey they encounter, while non-explorers discriminate in their diet selections, focusing on the most profitable prey items. 

  • Team finds first wild alligator snapping turtle in Illinois since 1984

    Researchers report the first sighting in 30 years of a wild alligator snapping turtle in Illinois. The discovery may be a sign of hope for this state-endangered species, or the animal could be the last of its kind to have survived in Illinois without human intervention, the researchers say.

  • Serpents of the Badlands

    What's it like to hunt for sunning serpents with the wind whistling in your ears? Find out in this Behind the Scenes story by INHS conservation biologist Mark Davis.

  • Undergrads choose their own adventure in this wildlife research group

    Don’t be fooled by the name: The wildlife and chronic wasting disease research group has a broader mission than you might think. Yes, the research focuses on white-tailed deer, primarily, and on CWD, a baffliing affliction of deer and elk. But for the dozens of undergraduate students who have joined this collaborative effort over the years, the group also is a portal, of sorts, to wide-ranging adventures in research. “More than 50 undergraduates have worked with us in the past 15 years. And most have gone on to successful careers,” said Nohra Mateus-Pinilla, a veterinary epidemiologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey who leads the effort with animal sciences professors Jan Novakofski and Michelle Green.

  • Illinois sportfish recovery a result of 1972 Clean Water Act, scientists report

    Populations of largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish and other sportfish are at the highest levels recorded in more than a century in the Illinois River, according to the Illinois Natural History Survey, which has surveyed fish there since 1957.

  • The best laid plans: Did insect resistance management hasten Bt resistance in western corn rootworm?

    Illinois Natural History Survey scientists studied behaviors of the western corn rootworm to learn why the insect pests have developed a resistance to Bt corn hybrids, once a deterrent that was as effective as soil insecticides but without the human health risks and environmental concerns associated with broad-spectrum insecticides.

  • Recorded bird calls entice warblers to nest in conservation areas

    Some species of migrating songbirds return each year to their favorite summer home in the Midwest, where food and nesting sites are plentiful. A University of Illinois scientist and a biologist from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources found that recorded birdsongs could coax endangered Kirtland’s warblers to a new breeding site hundreds of miles from their usual destination for their own protection.

  • Few hunters know how their duck stamp dollars are spent

    Illinois hunters each pay $25 for an annual federal duck stamp to legally shoot waterfowl, yet few know how their money is used, according to a University of Illinois study.

  • Mentors help Illinois students learn to hunt at workshop

    Seventeen University of Illinois students developed their hunting skills at a free two-day workshop at Allerton Park in September. The workshop was part of a statewide program developed by the Illinois Natural History Survey with support from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources; the goal is to encourage more Illinoisans to participate in hunting, an activity important to both the economy and ecosystems of Illinois.

  • 12-year-old pursues love of paleontology by volunteering in INHS lab

    It's not unusual to find 12-year-old Reagan Lee in the INHS paleontology lab on a Saturday, scanning for fossils embedded in chunks of amber from the Dominican Republic.

  • Researchers suspect that nightjars are declining in Illinois

    Although the Eastern Whip-poor-will is rarely seen, its distinct call occasionally can be heard in forests from dusk until dawn. Once common, Whip-poor-wills and other nocturnal nightjar species are disappearing from Illinois forests as their habitats shrink and change, according to data from the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), a division of the University of Illinois’ Prairie Research Institute.

  • INHS seeks principal research scientist and director

    The Illinois Natural History Survey seeks a principal research scientist who will develop and manage a research program, while also serving as director of INHS, providing leadership, direction, and overall administration for the development, coordination, and implementation of scientific research and service programs undertaken and provided by INHS.

  • Chronic wasting disease in Illinois: resources and disease dynamics

    Protecting the deer herd from chronic wasting disease has economical value to the State of Illinois, recreational value to deer hunters, and a health value for CWD-susceptible animals. Currently, there is no treatment or vaccination against CWD. Management based on removal of infected deer in areas where disease is present is the only known strategy to control the spread of CWD.

  • Researchers survey and study mosquito vectors for the Zika virus in Illinois

    Researchers at the Illinois Natural History Survey are surveying and collecting adult female mosquitoes in Illinois and testing how effective insecticides are against them, particularly the Asian tiger mosquito, a species capable of transmitting the Zika virus.

     

  • INHS and IDNR survey mussels in the Kishwaukee River

    The Kishwaukee River basin in northern Illinois remains one of the most mussel-rich resources in the state. In 2012, the INHS Urban Biotic Assessment Program began studying the fishes, reptiles, amphibians, and mollusks of the Kishwaukee River along the Illinois Tollway I-90 overpass. In 2015 UBAP began a longterm monitoring program of the mussel population at the site. Each August, a team of researchers from INHS, IDNR, and local land management agencies descends on the same location and intensively samples the mussels in the area over the course of a week.

  • Study links fish stress hormones to whether they take the bait

    Take a fish out of water and its stress hormones will go up. Adrenaline and noradrenaline, the “fight or flight” hormones, peak first, followed more gradually by cortisol. A new study reported in the Journal of Experimental Biology finds that largemouth bass whose cortisol levels rise most after a brief bout of stress are inherently harder to catch by angling. This could affect recreational fishing. If anglers are primarily capturing fish whose stress levels dictate whether they are likely to strike at a lure, “we could potentially be selecting for fish that are harder to catch,” said University of Illinois natural resources and environmental sciences professor Cory Suski, who led the new research with Illinois Natural History Survey research scientist Jeffrey Stein and graduate student Michael Louison.

  • Turning the tables: Application of commercial fishing helps fight the spread of Asian carp

    The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is using federal funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to help Illinois’ commercial fishermen suppress the exploding invasive carp population. The project—which brings together multiple agencies and Illinois universities, including the Illinois Natural History Survey and the University of Illinois—is a complex undertaking involving the newest technology in bubble, sound, and electric barriers and fish-counting sonar, coupled with centuries-old stalwarts such as gill nets.

  • Free workshops give adults a chance to learn to hunt game, waterfowl

    A new program developed by the Illinois Natural History Survey with support from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources aims to encourage more adults to hunt. The Hunter Recruitment Program is offering a series of free workshops around the state, giving new hunters an opportunity to learn from experienced mentors and to get hands-on experience hunting for deer, turkey, squirrels, pheasants, ducks, geese and other game.