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  • 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 cure 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.

  • INHS Reports: Fighting the spread of aquatic invasive species in the marketplace

    Aquatic invasive species are non-native organisms that harm the environment, economy, or human and livestock health. Illinois is especially vulnerable to aquatic invaders. Harmful effects of aquatic invasive species that reside in the lake include the multimillion dollar annual cost to industry and water utilities, reduced recreational activities, and degrading native habitats. One way that aquatic invaders are introduced to the Great Lakes region is through the buying and selling of species.

  • Brian D. Anderson retires from PRI

    On July 8 Prairie Research Institute staff and supporters gathered to bid a fond farewell to Brian D. Anderson, who retired from PRI at the end of June after serving as director of the Illinois Natural History Survey and interim director of PRI.

  • Zebra finch study finds mixed impact of early-life stress

    A bout of early-life stress can have lifelong impacts on two key signals that help male zebra finches attract mates: beak color and song complexity. But rather than being uniformly negative, a recent study published in Functional Ecology found that the consequences of stress are mixed. Stressed males wind up with duller, less colorful beaks but sing more complex songs.

  • Researchers sample a DC swamp to study a spineless creature

    INHS ecologist Matthew Niemiller led a recent study that used an environmental DNA approach to search for Hay’s Spring amphipod in its Rock Creek Park home. “It’s not a cute, cuddly or charismatic species. But we’re still learning more and more about groundwater ecosystems. And there is evidence that these crustaceans are important indicators of groundwater quality, and may play important roles in water purification and nutrient cycling over time.”

  • Bird gets worm, makes history

    Illinois Natural History Survey postdoctoral researcher Loren Merrill describes how he observed the unusual behavior of a pied-billed grebe from his balcony, leading to an insight published in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology.

  • INHS Reports: Angler survey on Lake Michigan fishing

    INHS researchers examined Lake Michigan fishing from social and economic perspectives. They surveyed anglers to collect information about angler expectations and needs in the Lake Michigan fishery and to ascertain the economic importance of fishing as a recreational activity. 

  • New science shows intense harm caused by fishing for nesting bass

    Angling for nesting bass during the spawning season decreases lake wide recruitment of bass, according to a massive 22-year study by INHS researcher David Philipp.

  • Scientists find world’s oldest fossil mushroom

    Roughly 115 million years ago, when the ancient supercontinent Gondwana was breaking apart, a mushroom fell into a river and began an improbable journey. Its ultimate fate as a mineralized fossil preserved in limestone in northeast Brazil makes it a scientific wonder, INHS scientists report in the journal PLOS ONE.

  • Survey finds farmers feel responsibility to protect land and waters

    Agricultural producers are typically blamed for applying fertilizer that pollutes local waters and carries oxygen-depleting nitrogen and phosphorus to the northern Gulf of Mexico. However, a strong majority of Illinois farmers believe they are doing their part to protect the environment, according to a study from the University of Illinois’ Prairie Research Institute (PRI).

  • Migratory birds bumped off schedule as spring shifts

    New research shows climate change is altering the delicate seasonal clock that North American migratory songbirds rely on to successfully mate and raise healthy offspring, setting in motion a domino effect that could threaten the survival of many familiar backyard bird species. A growing shift in the onset of spring has left nine of 48 species of songbirds studied unable to reach their northern breeding grounds at the calendar marks critical for producing the next generation of fledglings, according to a paper published on May 15, 2017, in Scientific Reports. The Illinois Natural History Survey was one of several institutions contributing to the study.

  • Where the wild turkeys aren't

    The wild turkeys have not been cooperating with avian ecologist Christine Parker as she attempts to catch, weigh, measure, and fit them with micro-GPS units to learn about their habits.

  • INHS team discovers new invasive clam species

    They found it in the Illinois River near the city of Marseilles, Illinois, about 80 miles west of Lake Michigan—a strange entry point for an invasive Asian clam. The scientists who found it have no idea how it got there. But the discovery—along with genetic tests that confirm its uniqueness—means that a new species or “form” of invasive clam has made its official debut in North America. This is only the latest invasive aquatic species to settle in North America, said Illinois Natural History Survey aquatic ecologist Jeremy Tiemann, who discovered the new clam with INHS mussel field biologist Sarah Douglass in late 2015.

  • INHS genetic testing confirms new Illinois state-record crappie was a hybrid

    “INHS was excited to be able to assess Ryan's massive slab crappie,” said INHS conservation biologist Mark Davis. "The genetics show that the mother of the record fish was a black crappie, while the father was either a white or a hybrid crappie.”

  • Digitization efforts make wealth of INHS collections more accessible

    INHS is home to over 9 million biological specimens, including plants, insects, fish, reptiles, and fossils. Learn how we're digitizing these specimens to make them accessible to everyone.

  • New scientific technique predicts a climate change scenario in national parks

    A University of Illinois researcher has created a new method to study potential climate change in protected areas.

  • Snake Road sojourn

    INHS Conservation Biologist Mark Davis describes his journey along Snake Road in the Shawnee National Forest in search of snakes, frogs, salamanders, and other creatures in the wild.

  • Lice and bacteria, partners in parasitism

    Illinois Natural History Survey scientist Kevin P. Johnson and former INHS post-doc Bret Boyd participated in a study that sought to better understand the evolutionary history of bacteria residing within lice.

  • Illinois team tackles mysterious disease afflicting wild and captive snakes

    Researchers in the Illinois Natural History Survey are investigating every aspect of snake fungal disease, hoping to find a treatment.

  • INHS employee linked to a famous entomologist from the 19th century

    A staff member at the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) recently learned of her family connection to a renowned amateur entomologist whose butterfly and beetle collection makes up a significant part of the 7.3 million specimen insect collection at INHS.

  • 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.

  • Casting a net for conservation

    Go Behind the Scenes with graduate research assistant Benjamin Williams as he catches ducks and records data along the Wabash River.

  • 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.

  • Study shows disease can be more effective in controlling invasive species than management efforts

    Populations of the common carp, introduced from Eurasia and historically the most abundant fish species in parts of the Illinois River, declined from the 1970s to the 1990s and have never made a comeback. A recent University of Illinois study showed that natural factors, including disease, can more effectively curb invasive species populations than human management efforts.

  • Report: Milkweed losses may not fully explain monarch butterfly declines

    Steep declines in the number of monarch butterflies reaching their wintering grounds in Mexico are not fully explained by fewer milkweeds in the northern part of their range, researchers report in a new study.

  • 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.

  • Illinois Natural History Survey takes campus lead on bird awareness

    After years of collecting dead birds at the Forbes Building, some of the INHS staff decided to find a solution to modify the large windows that were causing so many avian deaths. After consulting with the University of Illinois’ Architectural Review Committee (ARC), staff chose an Acopian Bird Saver for the south windows and a lined window film for the north windows where most of the bird casualties occurred.

  • 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.