Illinois Natural History Survey News

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  • 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.

  • Scientists Debunk Myths about Illinois Bats

    Bats, long associated with Halloween and tales of horror, have far more to fear from humans than we do from them. Researchers at the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), Prairie Research Institute, monitor bats statewide by capturing, identifying, and banding individuals in fine-meshed netting (mist nets) and collecting acoustic recordings of high-frequency bat calls.

  • Study Finds Illinois Farmers View Feral Hogs as a Nuisance

    Illinois farmers, even those who have experienced no damage to their land or crops, dislike feral hogs and support hog control, according to a new study from the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois.

  • INHS Cave Biologist Steve Taylor interviewed about White-Nose Syndrome

    INHS Cave Biologist Steve Taylor was contacted about cave dwelling bats and White-Nose Syndrome (WNS). Taylor is part of a team from the Illinois Natural History Survey monitoring caves throughout Illinois for signs of WNS.

  • Video produced about White-Nose Syndrome research

    INHS Mycologist Andy Miller and graduate student Daniel Raudabaugh were featured in a video produced by the Prairie Research Institute on their research into White-Nose Syndrome in bats.

  • Editorial calls on Wisconsin to follow Illinois' strategy regarding CWD

    Research findings by INHS Wildlife Epidemiologists Mary Beth Manjerovic, Michelle L. Greena, Nohra Mateus-Pinilla and University of Illinois colleague Jan Novakofski were referenced in an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Their research, found that after Wisconsin discontinued culling deer populations with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), the prevalence of CWD in Wisconsin had an average annual increase of 0.63%. During that same time period, Illinois continued government culling and there was no change in prevalence throughout Illinois.

  • Cave microbe produces compound that inhibits the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome

    A new study from INHS Mycologist Andrew Miller and grad student Daniel Raudabaugh has found that the yeast Candida albicans produces a compound: trans, trans-farnesol, that inhibits growth of Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats.

  • White Nose Syndrome found in three additional counties

    White Nose Syndrome, the fungal disease that leads to mortality in bats, has now been confirmed in 11 counties in Illinois. First discovered in New York in 2006, the fungus has spread west, first being detected in Illinois in 2013. INHS Cave Biologist Steve Taylor told an NPR affiliate that, "between 2013 and 2015, it was like a 95 percent decrease in the number of bats at this site, which in 2013 was in excess of 25,000 bats."

  • Cat disease Toxoplasmosis found in muskrats and minks

    INHS Graduate student Adam Ahlers led a study on the prevalence of Toxoplasmosis, a disease spread by cats. The researchers found antibodies for Toxoplasma gondii, the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, in 18 of 30 muskrats and 20 of 26 minks tested for the disease in central Illinois.

  • Heske interviewed on White Nose Syndrome in bats

    INHS Mammalian Ecologist Ed Heske was featured in an article about White Nose Syndrome where he said that the situation "looks kind of pessimistic." Heske is part of a multidisciplinary team led by INHS researchers, that has been surveying Illinois caves for signs of WNS over the past three years. Visit our website for more information on White Nose Syndrome research at INHS.

  • Illinois otters have highest dieldrin levels

    INHS Researcher Samantha Carpenter was featured in an article in Michigan State University's Great Lakes Echo, about the high levels of dieldrin and other contaminants in the bodies of river otters. Carpenter was lead author on a study published in October in the journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety.

  • Merritt answers how mammals cope with the cold

    With all the hype surrounding Punxsutawney Phil, Environmental Almanac's Rob Kanter decided to interview INHS Mammalogist Joe Merritt, who reported that groundhogs don't generally come out of hibernation until early March. According to Merritt, while groundhogs do hibernate, most mammals in Illinois do not truly hibernate, rather they go into a state of  "winter lethargy." Of the 60 mammal species in Illinois, only 16 truly hibernate, 12 of which are bats. Watch a short video on groundhogs from INHS Outreach Group

  • Lice evolve faster than their primate hosts

    INHS Psocodea expert Kevin Johnson and post doctoral researcher Julie Allen led a recently published study comparing the rate of evolution in primates with that in their louse parasites. This study is the first to look at the pace of molecular change across the genomes of different groups. Read LA Times article.

  • Fungus that causes white nose syndrome is a survivor

    INHS Mycologist Andrew Miller and graduate student Daniel Raudabaugh recently published a paper on the fungus Pseudogymnoascus (Geomyces) destructans, which causes white nose syndrome in bats. In this first, in depth study of the basic biology of the fungus, the researchers found that P. destructans can survive on a wide variety of nutrient sources. White Nose Syndrome research at the Illinois Natural History Survey.

  • Culling maintains low prevalence of Chronic Wasting Disease in deer populations

    INHS Wildlife Epidemiologist Nohra Mateus-Pinilla and postdoctoral researchers Mary Beth Manjerovic and Michelle Green conducted research on the effectiveness of culling deer to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). CWD is a 100% fatal disease in deer, likened to Mad Cow Disease. Their paper compared the culling strategy used in Illinois to the two different management strategies used in Wisconsin over a decade. Listen to the interview on Focus 580.

  • Banned chemicals persist in river otters

    INHS researchers Samantha Carpenter and Nohra Mateus-Pinilla recently published a paper in the journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety. Carpenter, Mateus-Pinilla, and University of Illinois Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory researchers, analyzed liver tissue samples from 23 river otters looking at 20 organohalogenated compounds used in agriculture and industry. Read stories from the Red Orbit and News Room America.