Illinois Natural History Survey News
Illinois Natural History Survey News
- Graduate Student Awards in Natural History
The Illinois Natural History Survey has presented awards to eight graduate students for their research accomplishments. Among the awardees include the following:
Rachel Moran won a Philip W. Smith Memorial Award for Research in Natural History for her project “Speciation Via Male-Driven Character Displacement in Darters.” The fund provides research support for graduate students in the fields of systematics or ecology of living organisms.
Lisa Mitchum, Department of Animal Biology, received the R. Weldon Larimore Scholarship in Research for Stream Ecology for her project “Color Vision in Largemouth Bass.”
Linnea Meier, Entomology Department, won a William H. Luckmann Award for Student Research in Applied Entomology. The fund provides support for student attendance and presentation of research at a professional society meeting. Her research project is titled “Species-Specific Blends of Shared Pheromone Components Minimize Interspecific Attraction Between Two Species of Cerambycid Beetles in the Subfamily Lamiinae.”
The following students have received the Herbert Holdsworth Ross Memorial Fund, which provides research support for graduate students in the field of systematics, including taxonomy, phylogeny, biogeography, and related subjects.
- Aron Katz, "Comparative Phylogeography of Codistributed Cave-Adapted Springtails (Collembola)"
- Christian Millan-Hernandez, "Determining the Evolutionary Forces Driving Dryinidae (Hymenoptera: Chrysidoidea) Diversity"
- Daniel Raudabaugh, "Taxonomy of Freshwater Fungi from Alkaline Stream and Bog Habitats"
- Hannah Wahl, "Systematics and Biodiversity of Fungi Found in Deep-Water Sediments of the Great Lakes"
- Kyle Parks, "A Phylogenetic Survey of Gene Evolution in an Endosymbiotic Virus, Polydnavirus, in Response to Parasitoid Host Switching in Parapanteles (Braconidae: Microgastrinae), a Parasitoid of Macrolepidopteran Caterpillars."
Muturi says that Aedes aegypti, which transmits Zika, has been found in Illinois but does not thrive in our climate. The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopinctus, is found in Illinois, but has not been found to transmit Zika, though more research is needed. Muturi says the key to controlling Aedes mosquitoes is to remove any standing water.
"Aedes mosquitoes can breed in very small containers that normal people wouldn't think are dangerous," Muturi said. "Anything that can hold water, no matter how small it is, that's what they like."
Chicago Tribune article
In a recently published paper, INHS Conservation Geneticist Mark Davis and colleagues recommended elevating several rattlesnake subspecies to full species status. The team collected data from 3000 individuals, measuring physical characteristics and analyzing genetic samples.
“We are able to see that these different subspecies, which have different habits, live in different areas and have other different characteristics, have heads that have been shaped differently over evolutionary time,” Davis said.
Recognizing the differences between species is important to conservation of biodiversity.
The Prairie Research Institute, with researchers from INHS and our sister surveys, has helped the Forest Preserve District of Cook County identify areas for restoration under the Next Century Conservation Plan. Restoration on Deer Grove West in Palatine is underway.
Chicago Tribune Article
INHS Ornithologist Mike Ward was contacted about the increase in eagle sightings in the area. According to Ward, there were fewer than 20 eagle nests in Illinois in the 80s, whereas during the last spring bird count, there were an estimated 200 eagle nests.
INHS Post doctoral researcher Bridget Henning, had a paper published recently looking at market based conservation in Papua New Guinea. Her research found that although villagers were concerned with the condition of the forest, they placed more emphasis on their relationship with conservationists, expecting conservationists to be present in the village, reciprocate their hospitality, participate in customary ceremonies, and respond to requests for material goods. This research explained that the relationship that maintained the conservation project was not market-based, it was a customary Melanesian exchange relationship that involved material goods, social interactions, and moral obligations.
Read the Mongabay article "Here’s why market-based initiatives alone won’t save the world’s forests and climate" to find out more about how this research relates to climate change discussions at the Conference of Parties (COP-21) in Paris and the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) approaches.
Read the paper "Market-based Conservation in Melanesia: Contrasting Expectations of Landowners and Conservationists" in Conservation & Society.
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.
“There is no magic cure at this point. There are things that people are looking at.”
For more information on White-Nose Syndrome research at INHS visit our website
Watch a video about INHS White-Nose Syndrome research
Read the full article in The Southern
INHS entomologist R. Edward DeWalt and graduate student Eric J. South of the Illinois Natural History Survey and Department of Entomology have a recently published paper on the size of stoneflies on Isle Royale in Lake Superior. Not only did their results show that there were significantly fewer species, compared to the mainland, but also that smaller stonefly species appeared to be more capable of recolonizing the island. This study was published in the open-access journal ZooKeys.
Read full press release from ZooKeys
Read the paper "Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera on Isle Royale National Park, USA, compared to mainland species pool and size distribution" doi: 10.3897/zookeys.532.6478
INHS Ornithologists Matt Louder, Mike Ward, Wendy Schelsky, and Jeff Hoover have new research published about the behavior of juvenile cowbirds, a nest parasite. They found that juvenile cowbirds leave the host's nest at night and return in the morning. This may be part of their strategy involved in avoiding imprinting on their host species.
“Among other things, cowbirds have got to learn to eat like cowbirds or they’re not going to survive very long,” Hoover said.
The paper “Out on their own: A test of adult-assisted dispersal in fledgling brood parasites reveals solitary departures from hosts” is available online
Read the News Bureau Story
INHS Aquatic Entomologist Ed DeWalt was featured in a video put out by the National Park Service: Scientists and Citizens: Investigating Aquatic Insects in Great Lakes National Parks https://youtu.be/n4w5qxd279o
"Scientists and Citizens: Investigating Aquatic Insects in Great Lakes National Parks"
Filmmakers spent a day with Ed DeWalt Phd, Illinois Natural History Survey, and Fei Xiong, a visiting scholar from China, as they surveyed the Crystal River in Sleeping Bear Dunes for invertebrates, particularly stonefly larva. Ed is interested in whether the stream is healthier within the boundaries of the National Park than through private lands.
The Great Lakes Research and Education Center provides Ed with volunteers who help him monitor insect populations in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. In the film below, Victoria Brinson describes her work collecting and analyzing specimens for the research. Joy Marburger, Phd. explains why it’s important for the Great Lakes Research and Education Center to encourage citizen science.
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.
A new study from INHS graduate student Matthew Louder, and INHS Ornithologists Wendy Schelsky, Jeff Hoover, and Amber Albores found that female cowbirds monitor nest success of their offspring and will lay their eggs in the most successful host nests. This, combined with previous work by Jeff Hoover and colleagues, shows that female cowbirds aren't just abandoning their eggs in a host nest.
Nests that fledged cowbirds were much more likely to be parasitized by ccowbirds again than those that failed to fledge cowbirds. “They’re learning both from success and from failure,” Hoover said.
Read the story from Illinois News Bureau
Illinois Natural History Survey Mycologist Andrew Miller was awarded a National Science Foundation Thematic Collections Networks (TCNs) grant to digitize microfungi collections. Miller will lead the Microfungi Collections Consortium, a group of 38 institutions across 31 states, in their efforts to digitize the more than 1.2 million specimens including slime molds, smut fungi, and powdery mildew. An additional 1.1 million existing records will also be added to the online portal known as the MyCoPortal (http://mycoportal.org/portal/index.php).
Read full story here
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.
Read the paper "The importance of localized culling in stabilizing chronic wasting disease prevalence in white-tailed deer populations"
Read the editorial "Follow Illinois, not Wisconsin, to slow spreading CWD"
INHS Aquatic Biologist Jeremy Tiemann led a team in a baseline survey of mussels in Crystal Lake Park, finding only a female Fatmucket. The team will return in 5-10 years to see if the planned installation of in-stream riffles improves the habitat and changes the mussel population. Read the article in the News Gazette.
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.
This naturally occurring cave microbe already exists in bat inhabited caves and this research suggests that, “inoculating hibernating bats with these microbes to use tt-farnesol as a control agent could increase the bats’ chances of surviving the infection,” Raudabaugh said.
Read the article in The Wildlife Society Bulletin
A recent study by INHS graduate student Allison Gardner, INHS Medical Entomologist Ephantus Juma Muturi and their colleagues found that leaf detritus in standing water can influence reproduction in mosquitoes. Leaves from invasive honeysuckle and autumn olive, yielded higher emergence of adult Culex pipiens mosquitoes (the vector for West Nile Virus). Leaves of native blackberry resulted in high numbers of eggs, but low adult emergence.
Read the news release
Read the paper in Parasites & Vectors
For more information on the Medical Entomology Program, visit our website.
A new paper by INHS affiliate Matthew Allender, INHS Graduate student Daniel Raudabaugh and Mycologist Andrew Miller was published on Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, the causative agent of snake fungal disease. This a serious emerging fungal pathogen of North American-endemic and captive snakes and has been a factor in the decline of the Eastern Massasauga in Illinois.
Researchers observed Ophidiomyces to be active at a range of temperatures and pH, and to have the ability to utilize a variety of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur resources.
As the fungus has been found to be limited at lower temperatures this study suggests that snake populations that hibernate in the lower part of the thermal range should have less infection during the spring than snake populations that hibernate in the upper part of the thermal range.
The researchers also suggest that with increasing global temperatures, snake populations will be more vulnerable to O. ophiodiicola infection in regions experiencing frequent mild winter conditions.
Watch a video about the Illinois Natural History Survey's research on the Eastern Massasauga and Ophidiomyces
Read the Illinois News Bureau Release
The paper, “The natural history, ecology, and epidemiology of Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola and its potential impact on free-ranging snake populations,” is available online or from the U. of I. News Bureau.
INHS Herpetologist Chris Phillips was interviewed by the News Gazette in response to a reader's question "Are there any reports of venomous snakes and snakebites in Champaign County in the last 10 years? Last 100 years?”
Phillips said that there are records for Massasauga Rattlesnakes in Champaign County from the 1800s and that there was a vague report of a venomous snake bite around 1900, but no newspaper article to confirm. The draining of wet prairies and conversion to agriculture were the likely cause of the demise of Massasaugas in Champaign County.
The closest location rattlesnakes have been seen in recent times is Allerton Park, but Phillips said, "We haven’t seen them there in almost a decade and we’ve done some pretty serious searching, not just casual stuff, but directed surveys for them."
INHS Ecologist Randy Nyboer was asked about the plants and animals of the Thomson-Fulton Sand Prairie Nature Preserve. These remnant habitats are important to many species more common to the deserts of south western United States, including Prickly Pear Cactus.
Read the full article
Read an INHS Reports about the Will County Sand Prairies
Illinois Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey director Kelly Estes was asked about Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs, native to Asia, currently found in the eastern United States. Estes explained that BMSB are good hitchhikers, able to be transported by people and packages. This, and other species will be discussed during the Invasive Species Symposium this Thursday at University of Illinois.
More information on the Invasive Species Symposium
Read the article in the Bellevillle News
Visit the CAPS webpage
INHS scientists will be participating in a Bioblitz organized by The Wetlands Initiative (TWI) at Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge at Hennepin and Hopper Lakes in Putnam County on June 13-14. Citizen scientists are invited to help document all of the flora, fauna, and fungi of the area over the course of 24 hours.
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,"
INHS Entomologist Chris Dietrich was interviewed about the emergence of 13 and 17 year cicadas this spring in southern Illinois. It is uncertain how abundant they will be, as “the cicadas require forest habitats, so they are not found out in open areas or areas that have been paved, or where the trees have been removed, so they’re really going to be restricted to areas where there is natural forest.”
Dietrich advised listening carefully to the chorus, stating, “there are actually four different species – each has a different call."
St Louis Public Radio interview
Read an INHS Blog entry from the last emergence in Northern Illinois.
INHS Orthoperterist and Paleontologist Sam Heads was co-author on a recently published study determining the evolutionary relationships of the grasshoppers, katydids, and crickets. The current study is based on genetics rather than morphological characteristics.
Read more in Entomology Today
Read the paper in Cladistics
(click image to enlarge)