Illinois Natural History Survey News
Illinois Natural History Survey News
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)
Brenda Molano-Flores (INHS), colleagues, and graduate students received an Appreciation Award from the US Fish and Wildlife Service in recognition of their leadership in the conservation of natural resources in northwest Florida. This team of scientists and graduate students has been conducting research on federally listed plants in the Florida Panhandle, including the carnivorous plant Pinguicula ionantha (Godfrey's butterwort) and the Florida endemic Scutellaria floridana (Florida Skullcap). Other members of the team are Jean Mengelkoch (INHS), Mary Ann Feist (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Samantha B. Primer (UI-Plant Biology), Janice Coons, and Jenna Annis (both from Eastern Illinois University-Biological Sciences).
For more information on their research, visit their website.
Juvenile Silver Carp by R. Pendelton
INHS graduate student Eric Sanft, presented "Vulnerability of Juvenile Asian Carp to Predation by Largemouth Bass" at the recent Midwest Fish and Wildlife meetings. His research found that bighead carp are more susceptible than other carp species to predation by largemouth bass and is the subject of an article by the Michigan State University Extension office.
Asian carp eaten by bass, but some carp are more vulnerable than others to native species
Read more about Asian Carp research from our Kaskaskia River Biological Station.
INHS Graduate student Adam Ahlers led a study on the prevalence of Toxoplasmosis, a disease spread by cats. The researchers found antibodies for T. gondii, the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, in 18 of 30 muskrats and 20 of 26 minks tested for the disease in central Illinois.
Read the full story
Read the paper in Journal of Wildlife Diseases- “Risk Factors for Toxoplasma gondii Exposure in Semiaquatic Mammals in a Freshwater Ecosystem”
Richard Weldon Larimore, long-time aquatic biologist of the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), died on January 14, 2015 at Urbana, Illinois. He was 91. He is survived by his wife Glenn E. Larimore and three sons Richard L., Kenneth, and Michael Larimore.
Dr. Larimore worked at INHS for more than six decades, beginning in 1946 as a research assistant. He remained associated with this organization until his death. As one of the longest serving staff in the history of INHS, Dr. Larimore has worked with every Chief of INHS except its first, Stephen A. Forbes, who held that position until 1930. David L. Thomas, the seventh INHS Chief, was a former student of Dr. Larimore’s.
A graduate of Rogers High, Rogers, Arkansas, Dr. Larimore completed a BS (Cum Laude) at the University of Arkansas in 1946, an MS at the University of Illinois in 1947, and a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan in 1950.
In addition to his service to the State of Illinois, Dr. Larimore was an Inland Fisheries Expert for the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. He served in this capacity in Thailand from 1963–1964 and in Indonesia from 1972–1973. Dr. Larimore was a charter member of the North American Benthological Society and a member of a number of other professional organizations including the American Fisheries Society, American Institute of Biological Sciences, Ecological Society of America, and the Illinois Academy of Science.
Dr. Larimore was the epitome of a gentleman and scholar, albeit, a very down-to-earth one. His publication record includes 4 book chapters, 25 technical reports, 29 journal articles as well as a monograph, 2 magazine articles, and contributions to 4 conference proceedings. Perhaps the culmination of his science publishing efforts was INHS Bulletin 35(2) “The Fishes of Champaign County, Illinois: During a Century of Alterations of a Prairie Ecosystem,” which he co-authored with Peter Bayley in 1996. This work is considered the most thorough record of historic data of fishes of any place on earth.
His publication awards include Best Paper Award from the Wildlife Society (1957) and Best Paper Award from the American Fisheries Society (1959). Dr. Larimore was also selected for the Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa for scholarship and the Phi Sigma National Scholarship Award.
In 2002, he was honored by his family and the University of Illinois with the establishment of the “R. Weldon Larimore/Jordan Creek Endowment Fund” to help perpetuate aquatic research on Jordan Creek, a stream that flows in eastern Illinois and western Indiana, where Dr. Larimore pioneered electro-fishing technology. This fund supports the “R. Weldon Larimore/Jordan Creek Award” granted annually to U of I students or INHS researchers based upon their research proposals.
Dr. Larimore, affectionately known as “Larry by his friends and colleagues, is remembered for his expertise in aquatic science, his institutional memory, and his sense of humor. Both at work and at more informal gatherings, Larry was always a
popular presence. Many of these gatherings occurred at his family’s cabin in the woods overlooking the Salt Fork River near Oakwood, Illinois. Like iron filings to the proverbial magnet, people were drawn to this location, not only by its tranquility and beauty but, by Larry’s personality. Many of us remember him standing around the fire, glass of wine in hand, regaling us with a seemingly inexhaustible trove of anecdotes from his life in science.
With deep sadness but profound fondness, we salute the life of Larry Larimore.
Download PDF version
Read the obituary
INHS Avian Ecologist Jeff Hoover was interviewed by The Southern about the ongoing debate of whether or not to fill bird feeders in the winter.
“By and large feeding can have a positive effect on birds, particularly in hard winters.”
Read the full story
THE carp image, taken by Thad Cook, graces the cover of the Canada's Environmental Voice - Alternatives Journal's - "Water Issue." It accompanies an article on Asian Carp and work being done by the US Army Corps of Engineers to curb their impact and keep them out of the Great Lakes.
Read the article.
INHS Entomologist Felipe Soto-Adames and colleagues described a new species of Collembola, Trogolaphysa sauron - named for the dorsal pattern's resemblance to the helmet of Sauron, a character in Lord of the Rings, as represented in Peter Jackson’s 2001 film.
Their paper, released this week by the Journal of Insect Science, revises the taxonomy of the subfamily Paronellinae and describes the new species.
The Alligator Snapping Turtle reintroduction project was featured in this week's Environmental Almanac. Not seen in Illinois in 30 years, INHS researchers are working to re-establish populations of these massive turtles.
Read the full Environmental Almanac article.
Follow the AST Recovery Project blog
The first boxes of our newest field guide, INHS Manual14: Butterflies of Illinois, arrived late this afternoon and are now available for purchase! Stop by our publications office between 8am and noon weekdays, or visit our secure online shopsite. The book is $21.80 with tax (plus shipping if ordering online orby phone).
The first boxes of our newest field guide, INHS Manual14: Butterflies of Illinois, arrived late this afternoon and are now available for purchase! Stop by our publications office between 8am and noon weekdays, or visit our shopsite. The book is $21.80 with tax (plus shipping if ordering online orby phone). https://shop.inrs.illinois.edu/inhs-man.html
A new species of leafhopper has been named for INHS Entomologist Christopher Dietrich in recognition of his extensive work on the group. The new species, Futasujinus dietrichi, is described in a paper in the October Annals of the Entomological Society of America.
Zhang, Huining; Dai, Wu ; Zhang, Yalin. "Review of the Old World Leafhopper Genus Futasujinus Ishihara (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae: Deltocephalinae: Paralimnini), With Description of Three New Species"
Herbivores (species that eat plants; e.g. caterpillars) consume more non-native (introduced from other places) oak leaf material in areas with diverse native plant communities than in less diverse communities. Why diverse plant communities tend to resist invasion by non-native plants, remains uncertain. Researchers from the Illinois Natural History Survey and the Morton Arboretum have been examining the potential role of herbivores on the invasion of non-native plant species in diverse plant communities.
The researchers examined herbivore damage on leaves of non-native oak trees in arboreta across the United States. They found that non-native oaks in regions with high oak species diversity showed more leaf damage than those in regions with low diversity.
Ian S. Pearse, lead author on the study in the current issue of the Royal Society journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, says that, “competition for resources has often been thought to limit invasions in diverse plant communities, but herbivory could also limit these invasions.”
While native oaks still suffered more leaf damage than non-native oaks overall, in the absence of native oaks non-native oaks showed even less leaf damage. Pearse conjectures, “Diverse plant communities are more likely to contain herbivores that are able to consume a non-native species, which may help to explain why diverse communities are able to resist invaders while others are easily dominated.”
As the introduction of non-native species increases, protection of intact plant communities and their associated herbivores may become critical to guarding against the non-native species invaders.
Full text of the article can be found at http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/
Published 17 September 2014 doi: 10.1098/rspb.2014.1841 Proc. R. Soc. B 7 November 2014 vol. 281 no. 1794 20141841
As one of the oldest biological surveys with a long history of botanical research, INHS Botanists support The Botanical Society of America "I am a Botanist", "Reclaim the Name" Challenge! For more information go to www.botany.org.
Mark Wetzel, research scientist and oligochaetologist at the Illinois Natural History Survey (Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), was awarded the 2014 Distinguished Service Award in May by the Society for Freshwater Science, an international scientific organization with over 1,800 members in over 40 countries that promotes understanding of freshwater ecosystems.
Illinois Natural History Survey herpetologists, led by Michael Dreslik, are involved in a multi-state, multi-agency effort to return the Alligator Snapping Turtles (Macrochelys temminckii) to its native range, which includes southern Illinois. INHS researchers are working with IIllinois DNR, US Fish and Wildlife, Peoria Zoo, and Southern Illinois University. As part of the head-starting portion of the project, students at Pontiac Township High School and Whitney Young High School have helped raise young turtles born at the St. Louis Zoo.
Other partners include the University of Illinois School of Veterinary Medicine, Missouri State University, Tulsa Zoo, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, University of Louisiana at Monroe, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
The 97 turtles released this month were equipped with dataloggers and radio transmitters which will allow researchers to track the progress of these turtles in the wild.
Read the complete release from Illinois Department of Natural Resources
For more information and updates on this project, follow the Alligator Snapping Turtle Recovery Blog
INHS Paleontologist Sam Heads, Jared Thomas, and Yinan Wang found a new pygmy locust embedded in amber. In a paper released today, the species was described and named Electrotettix attenboroughi, in honor of Sir David Attenborough. Watch a video about their research, narrated by Attenborough, below.
Citation: Heads, S.W., Thomas, M.J., Wang, Y. 2014. A remarkable new pygmy grasshopper (Orthoptera, Tetrigidae) in Miocene amber from the Dominican Republic. ZooKeys 429: 87–100. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.429.8020
INHS Research Affiliate Matt Allender (a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine) has developed a way to detect the presence of a deadly fungus with less impact on the infected snake.
“We need people to know that they don’t have to anesthetize an animal to collect a biopsy sample or, worse yet, euthanize snakes in order to test for the infection,” said University of Illinois comparative biosciences professor Matthew Allender, an expert in snake fungal disease. “Now we can identify the infections earlier, we can intervene earlier and we can potentially increase our success of treatment or therapy.”
INHS Mycologist Andrew Miller and his graduate student Dan Raudabaugh are working to understand the fungus itself.
This work is being done in conjunction with the long-term INHS research project on the critically endangered Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake. INHS Herpetologists Chris Phillips and Mike Dreslik have been studying the ecology of the snakes for over 15 years.
Read the complete story from the Illinois News Bureau