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  • Hear the Sound of Owls Calling at Night

    “Birds of omen, dark and foul,” wrote Sir Walter Scott about owls, once considered harbingers of doom, death, and destruction. In Medieval Europe, owls were thought to be witches and an owl's call meant someone was about to die.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Research team examines incubation temperatures for robin eggs

  • 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 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.

  • ISAS Story Map re-envisions Greater Cahokia

    Archaeologists and researchers from the University of Illinois have spent over a century studying Cahokia, North America’s first native city. For the first time, this wealth of knowledge about Cahokia has being used to create a Story Map entitled, Re-Envisioning Greater Cahokia. Staff from the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS), a division of the Prairie Research Institute, are responsible for turning the data, maps, text, and rarely seen images into the one-of-a-kind Story Map.

  • 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.

  • Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel to retire in December

    Jim Angel, Illinois State Climatologist, has announced that he will retire in December 2018 after 34 years at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS). In his current position, Angel has served as the primary source of science-based weather and climate information and services for the state of Illinois since 1997.

  • 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.

  • Pauketat to lead Illinois State Archaeological Survey

    Timothy R. Pauketat, a University of Illinois professor of Anthropology, is the new director of the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS). Pauketat has been a visiting research scientist at ISAS since 2016.

  • 2019 Celebration of Excellence

    The Prairie Research Institute recently honored employees for their outstanding achievements and presented the Friend of PRI Award to longtime advisory board member P. Kay Whitlock. 

  • Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs are on the Move This Fall

    An invasive stink bug species has been found in five newly invaded Illinois counties this year, according to Kelly Estes, Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) coordinator in the Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois.

  • Researchers rescued stranded mussels on the Vermilion River

  • Laura Keefer named Illinois State Hydrologist

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

  • 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.

  • Researchers photograph bats under bridges with a borescope

  • 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.

     

  • National Science Foundation awards more than $480,000 to amber preservation project

    The National Science Foundation has awarded more than $480,000 to a Prairie Research Institute project to preserve and digitize an extensive collection of Dominican amber that is in danger of deterioration without proper curation and care. The plants, arthropods, and vertebrates captured in the amber provide insights into life 16-18 million years ago, during the Early Miocene epoch.

  • 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.

  • Brian Kerschner steps up to serve as spokesperson for weather and climate issues

    With the retirement of Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel, Brian Kerschner is stepping up to temporarily serve as the Illinois State Water Survey’s point person on weather and climate issues while a search is conducted for the new full-time Illinois State Climatologist.

  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • Soil temperatures and moisture levels declining in early March

  • Soil temperatures this winter in Illinois were warmer than normal

  • Water Survey to receive $1M for rural outreach programs

    The Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) will receive more than $1 million in funding through 2021 to support its drinking water outreach programs for private well owners and small, rural communities.

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

  • Endangered bumblebees to be counted and studied this summer

  • Digitization Projects Make Nature Collections Available to Everyone

    Extinct feather lice, invasive fish from the Great Lakes, and rare plants from Pakistan are a few of the millions of species no longer viewed just in dark academic warehouses and museums. Curators at the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) who have helped to preserve these biological specimens are digitizing them for anyone who is interested in science to view them online.

  • Mahomet Aquifer Protection Task Force issues recommendations

    A task force formed by the Illinois General Assembly to identify gaps in protection of the Mahomet Aquifer has issued its final recommendations. Illinois State Water Survey hydrologist George Roadcap served as a member of the task force, and other Prairie Research Institute scientists provided data and expertise to support the group’s yearlong effort.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Network now monitors air temperature inversions in several locations

  • 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).

  • Researchers need your brown marmorated stink bugs

    Fall is the time for many insects to start making their ways indoors for the winter. The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), Halyomorpha halys is believed to have been introduced from Asia and can be a pest on tress and crops. Researchers are still trying to determine the range of the BMSB and need your help. If you believe you have BMSB, we would be very interested in looking at it.

  • 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.

  • Girl Scouts provided habitat for Illinois bats

    When it came to earning their Silver Award, which encourages scouts to complete a project that helps their community, Girl Scout Troop 51978 from Westmont, Illinois, decided to support bat conservation with help from Illinois Natural History Survey associate mammalogist Tara Hohoff.

  • Archaeology returns to Allerton

    The Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS) will again partner with Parkland College to bring archaeology to Allerton Park for the second year in a row. This year the Parkland College field school will be led by ISAS research archaeologist and Parkland College instructor Dr. B. Jacob Skousen.

  • Invasive Plants from Water Gardens and Aquariums Must be Disposed of Properly

    When clearing out the foliage from an aquarium or backyard water garden this fall, keep water hyacinth and other invasive plants out of streams, rivers, and other waterways.

  • Project maps out building footprints in Illinois to study natural disasters

    Researchers at the University of Illinois are keeping an eye on areas of Illinois that are at high risk for flooding, not only county by county, but also building by building.

  • Bitter cold in January likely won’t reduce field crop pests in the spring

    Despite the record cold air temperatures, soil temperatures averaged slightly warmer than normal this winter. Consequently, the Arctic conditions are expected to have little effect on overwintering field crop insect pest populations.

  • Survey seeks ideas to help specialty crop growers make pest control decisions

    Researchers at the University of Illinois’ Prairie Research Institute are developing new pest degree day tools for the state’s specialty crop growers. A short online survey offers growers the opportunity to contribute their opinions on how this information is delivered.

  • 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.

  • Illinois Climate Network marks 30 years of monitoring Illinois weather and soil

    It’s been 30 years since the Illinois State Water Survey launched the Illinois Climate Network (ICN) to monitor the state’s weather and soils. The 19 ICN stations around the state collect data on wind speed and direction, air temperature, humidity, precipitation, barometric pressure, solar radiation, soil temperatures and soil moisture. Water Survey staff also calculate data on dew point, degree days, potential evapotranspiration, and temperature inversion. All of this information—an annual total of 2 million records—is used by farmers, researchers, and businesses for decision making and planning.

  • 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.

  • 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.