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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.

  • jumping silver carp

    Assessment of Asian carp in Illinois waterways

    Scientists and policymakers have long struggled with managing Asian carp numbers in Illinois waterways. PRI's Joe Parkos and Steve Butler explain what's working to scale back these intruders as they inch toward the Great Lakes.

  • Amblyomma maculatum (Gulf coast tick), female (left) and male (right)

    Disease-carrying coastal tick established in Illinois

    Researchers at the Illinois Natural History Survey and Southern Illinois University have new evidence of the Gulf Coast tick becoming established in Illinois. They also have found that it often harbors a pathogen that can make people sick. 

  • ISWS partnership helps prevent water shortage in Northeastern Illinois

    Facing an imminent water shortage and drilling deeper into its aquifers to meet demands, planning committees and legislators from Joliet and surrounding communities are partnering the ISWS to prevent a water crisis.

  • Research team examines incubation temperatures for robin eggs

  • Owls eat roadkill, research finds

    Owls have never been known as scavengers that eat decaying flesh, but the behavior is more widespread than once believed, according to University of Illinois researchers at the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) who photographed owls scavenging in the night.

  • 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.

  • Study shows future climate changes in wind patterns vary by U.S. region and season

    The Midwest is a particularly promising region for future wind energy development out to 2100 when accounting for climate change, according to a new study at the University of Illinois.

  • 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. 

  • Healthy deer. Photo by Susan Post, 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.

  • Reflection of Building on Body of Water at Daytime

    The impact of Bulletin 75

    As Illinois experiences a third consecutive year of record-breaking rainfall stretching from Chicago to Cairo, researchers at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) have updated the publication that provides Illinois’ standards for expected extreme storms, known as Bulletin 75.

  • Glasford crater in Peoria

    "It was a bad day for Peoria County about 450 million years ago."

  • Scientists foretell the fate of Illinois’ threatened and endangered plants in a changing climate

    Scorching summers are predicted for Illinois’ future, threatening already vulnerable plant species. University of Illinois scientists have presented a new way to prioritize restoration efforts, not necessarily focusing on the most precarious plants.

  • Researchers studied bobcat population in Wisconsin.

    Researchers find that data from hunters can help assess bobcat population

    Wildlife managers track animal groups to control populations and determine the number of permits provided to hunters and trappers each year. Whether data are taken from the forest or from hunter surveys, their accuracy is necessary to inform conservation, according to Javan Bauder, post-doctoral researcher at the University of Illinois’ Illinois Natural History Survey.

  • Trent Ford

    Trent Ford named new Illinois State Climatologist

    Hydroclimatologist Trent Ford, currently an assistant professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, has been selected as the next Illinois State Climatologist, the authoritative source of weather and climate information and services for the state of Illinois. 

  • rendering of the proposed innovative power plant

    DOE awards $25 million to PRI for design of innovative power plant

    The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $25 million to a three-year project led by the Prairie Research Institute that will design a next-generation power plant in Springfield, Illinois. The innovative plant design combines multiple techniques to both reduce emissions and capture and re-use carbon dioxide.

  • four people stand at the Illinois Basin Decatur Project injection well

    Data from landmark Illinois Basin carbon storage project are now available

    The first-of-its-kind Illinois Basin – Decatur Project (IBDP), which concluded in 2021 after successfully demonstrating the safe geologic storage of carbon dioxide, is releasing data sets in two easily accessible locations.

  • two men stand beneath a direct air capture installation in Iceland

    ISTC-led team to design large-scale system for direct air capture and storage of carbon dioxide in the U.S.

    The U.S. Department of Energy has partnered with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center in a nearly $2.5 million project to develop preliminary designs and determine feasibility for the first commercial-scale direct air capture and storage system for carbon dioxide removal in the United States.

  • Researchers describe crayfish conservation concerns and strategies

    Whether you call them crayfish, crawfish, or crawdad, this creature needs protection nationwide to prevent extinction, according to Chris Taylor, Illinois Natural History Survey curator at the University of Illinois. In a recent article published in the journal Hydrobiologia, Taylor and colleagues have outlined possible strategies for conservation practices to protect crayfish from invasive species, habitat changes, and potential overexploitation.

  • 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.

  • microphone

    Virtual speaker series features Native scholars and leaders

    This spring the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign will hold a virtual speaker series featuring Native scholars and leaders. The Intersections of Indigenous Knowledge and Archaeology series is intended to center Indigenous voices, increase awareness of the deep Native histories of the Eastern Woodlands, and amplify the experiences and research of Indigenous scholars and leaders. 

  • Buying a home in Illinois? You'll need PRI for that.

    For every Illinois home sold, the Prairie Research Institute provides data needed for banks, title companies, insurance companies, and consumers to make informed decisions about home ownership. 

  • man at injection well site

    ISGS combines innovation and expertise in carbon storage

    For almost 20 years, PRI’s geologists and engineers have been developing methods for the safe capture, storage, and utilization of CO2 from power plants and industrial operations. This has been in response to federal and state laws requiring reductions in CO2 emissions, as this byproduct of power generation has a direct link to atmospheric greenhouse gasses and climate change. 

  • Bass learn from experience not to take the bait

    Largemouth bass apparently don’t learn to avoid fishing lures from other bass but instead from their own past experiences, according to University of Illinois research.

  • Illinois Archaeological Predictive Model screenshot

    Archaeological predictive model helps Illinoisans balance growth with preservation

    The Illinois State Archaeological Survey offers a GIS-based tool that draws on more than a century of data to predict the probability of encountering an archaeological site in any 2-acre section of Illinois. Land owners, developers, preservationists, and other Illinoisans can use this tool to proactively assess and protect archaeological resources while enabling sustainable development. 

  • 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.

  • Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina) Photo: Susan Post, INHS

    Scientists call for global effort to monitor odonate populations

    INHS ecologist Jason Bried and more than 30 co-authors published an article calling for a worldwide effort to monitor not just locations but also quantities of Odonata species.

  • 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.

  • Recent surveys find few of once-common bat species

    Bat species that used to be common in Illinois are scarce in recent surveys, sending up a red flag.

  • ISTC and ISWS Director Kevin OBrien with University of Illinois System President Timothy Killeen at City, Water, Light, and Power in Springfield, Illinois.

    Carbon capture collaborations lead clean energy drive

    The Prairie Research Institute — is leading a drive to implement CO2 removal strategies, an essential step to a clean-energy future. 

  • holding a crayfish

    New atlas website maps crayfish locations across the U.S.

    Researchers at the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) have developed the new American Crayfish Atlas, the first website to provide nationwide coverage of crayfish distributions, showing where crayfish species have been found and the extent of their ranges.

  • Survey shows species of marsh birds that decline when nearby cities thrive

    Wading into the springtime muddy marshland, pushing aside a wall of plants taller than her head, ornithologist Anastasia Rahlin looks and listens for signs of black terns and yellow-crowned night herons. She plays a recording, waits 30 seconds, and listens for a return call. The species of birds that she doesn’t find in the marsh are the ones she doesn’t want scientists to forget.

  • ISWS team wins 2019 NGWA Outstanding Groundwater Supply Project Award

    The Groundwater science team at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) has received the National Ground Water Association Outstanding Groundwater Supply Project Award for 2019 for their project Assessing At-Risk Groundwater Supply in the Southwest Suburbs of Chicago

  • 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.

  • SkyTEM helicopter

    A helicopter above Champaign County will explore an aquifer below ground

    Beginning on Nov. 19 and extending for a few weeks, Champaign County citizens will spot a curiosity flying in the sky above: a helicopter towing a large coil frame hanging from long cables. Helicopter flights are part of an Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) project to map and better understand the Mahomet aquifer within the county.

  • An eastern red bat.

    Project succeeds in increasing east-central Illinois bat population

    Thirty minutes before sunset, Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) scientists and volunteers set up chairs in the prairie grass at Coles County’s Warbler Ridge Nature Preserve, look up at the summer twilight sky, and wait for the bat show to begin. Soon, the bats emerge from their bat houses to feed and fly off into the night. A good showing of bats is exciting news for the scientists: bat-focused habitat conservation efforts have proven to be effective in attracting and nurturing bat populations, but this work can take time to pay off.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • COVID-19 virus

    Sampling sewer water for COVID-19 in the community 

    Illinois State Water Survey researchers are part of a project to look for traces of SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in sewer water in order to help monitor the spread of infection.  

  • A spotted turtle in water

    30 years of data show spotted turtle communities are still vulnerable

    Populations of the endangered spotted turtle in Illinois are holding up better than those in other states, based on 30 years of data at the University of Illinois. Still, only two populations remain, and the predictions are poor.

  • lichen

    INHS among collaborators on NSF-funded project to digitize bryophytes and lichens

    The Illinois Natural History Survey is among 25 institutions across the U.S. that will image and digitize associated metadata for close to 1.2 million lichen and bryophyte specimens thanks to a $3.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

  • map of Central Illinois' Mahomet aquifer

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • smokestack

    DOE awards $47 million to PRI and collaborators for carbon capture project

    The team will build and operate a 10 MWe slipstream of the Linde/BASF post-combustion carbon capture technology at City Water, Light and Power (CWLP) in Springfield, Illinois. The successful construction and operation of this plant will provide a means to demonstrate an economically attractive and transformational capture technology. 

  • 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.

  • Pinto Bean

    Celebrated squirrel’s legacy lives on for visitors

    Pinto Bean, the beloved piebald squirrel that lived and died on the University of Illinois campus, is back. The squirrel’s taxidermied remains are now on display at the Forbes Natural History Building lobby, where visitors can see its rare gray and white coloration that attracted fans and followers at the university.

  • aerial view of silos

    DOE funds ISGS work on carbon storage

  • New Homeowners' To-Do List Should Include Well Water Testing

    Looking for that special house in the country?  Don't forget to have the well tested to ensure safe drinking water, advises Steve Wilson, groundwater hydrologist at the Illinois State Water Survey, University of Illinois.

  • Eric Schauber

    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.