Illinois Natural History Survey News
Illinois Natural History Survey News
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – 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.
With the arrival of cooler weather, brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB) congregate on house siding, windowsills, and garages, or find their way into homes, becoming a nuisance for homeowners.
“This is the time of year when stink bugs are most active as they look for cracks and crevices in buildings and other dry places to overwinter,” Estes said. Reports of brown marmorated stink bug activity have been steadily increasing across the state this past week.
First found in northeast Illinois (Cook County) and in the East St. Louis area in 2010, this year BMSB have been confirmed for the first time in Macon, Winnebago, Clinton, Effingham, and Stephenson Counties. Since BMSB is an invasive species, it has few known natural enemies and populations can grow quickly.
Adult BMSB have the shield-shaped body of all stink bugs. This species has a marmorated or mottled brown color and the antennae have white bands. Alternating black and white bands border the abdomen.
In the spring, the stink bugs emerge from their hiding places to lay eggs on the underside of leaves. They feed on 150 to 200 host plants in gardens, orchards, and fields. Estes reported no known economic losses thus far in agricultural crops in Illinois, unlike the damage seen in the Mid-Atlantic states.
To keep stink bugs out of homes, make sure windows are sealed. Estes does not recommend spraying insecticide. The best option is to vacuum them up and throw them away; live stink bugs can also be dropped into soapy water.
Homeowners are the best source of information on the whereabouts of BSMB. If you believe you have seen this species, Estes would be interested in looking at a sample. Stink bugs may be sent in a crush-proof container, such as a pill bottle or check box, to Kelly Estes, 1816 S. Oak St., Champaign, IL 61820. Photos can be sent to email@example.com.
Media contact: Kelly Estes, (217) 333-1005; firstname.lastname@example.org
Margaret Wingard, sponsored research coordinator at the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), Prairie Research Institute, has received the 2016 University of Illinois SPaRC Outstanding Service Award for her support of research administration.
The 2016 Sponsored Projects and Research Compliance (SPaRC) annual award was presented to four staff members who have advanced the field of research administration or through innovation have improved a specific process at the university, college, center, or department level that led to increased efficiencies in the administration of research.
Wingard was hired at the INHS in 2001. From fiscal years 2012 to 2015, Wingard submitted an average of 106 proposals annually, requesting an average of $21.3 million per year. She streamlined the proposal process so that researchers could apply for grants more efficiently.
Award recipients were recognized at the SPaRC retreat on September 16, 2016.
In 2015, Torie Strole, grants and contracts coordinator, also of the Prairie Research Institute, received the SPaRC Outstanding Service Award.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – In a recent survey of approximately 340 corn fields in 68 Illinois counties, bacterial leaf streak was confirmed in only one county, according to Kelly Estes, Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) coordinator, Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois.
INHS, along with the University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS), surveyed corn fields after the disease was confirmed in Nebraska in July. Bacterial leaf streak was found in DeKalb County in northeastern Illinois and also was confirmed in Iowa and seven other states as part of this survey.
The symptoms of bacterial leaf streak are similar to the fungal disease gray leaf spot (GLS). The bacterium produces irregular, narrow brown to orange stripes between leaf veins that can be 1 inch to several inches long. GLS lesions tend to be shorter and more rectangular in shape.
Bacterial leaf streak is spread by wind, rain, and irrigation, and warm temperatures exacerbate the disease. Little is known about the biology of the bacterium, but the USDA indicates that it doesn’t pose a risk, and there is no evidence of negative effects to corn yields or quality in the 2016 season. Fungicides are not expected to control or suppress the disease.
Bacterial leaf streak will be on the list of diseases to survey as part of next year’s CAPS program, Estes said.
If you suspect bacterial leaf streak, submit a sample to the University of Illinois Plant Clinic http://web.extension.illinois.edu/plantclinic/
Media contact: Kelly Estes, (217) 333-1005; email@example.com
Photo credit: University of Nebraska-Lincoln
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Skepticism and uncertainty should not excuse inaction in protecting the environment from human-caused climate change, say scientists in a new essay published in the journal Science on August 12.
Climate change skeptics often question the scientific evidence that risks exist, the magnitude of any risks, and assert that policy changes will be too costly, according to co-author Richard Sparks, a retired professional scientist at the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois.
Skepticism has now shifted away from outright denial to what the authors term “neoskepticism,” defined as agreement that climate change exists, but opposition to mitigation actions.
“As evidence mounts, neoskeptics question the severity of the problem and argue that as long as uncertainty exists, the smartest and most financially shrewd move is to do little or nothing,” Sparks said. “They do not examine the risks and costs of inaction, and fail to consider that the risks of extreme and damaging outcomes are continually increasing. Waiting for harmful effects to be proven beyond all reasonable doubt before taking action has increasing costs to the economy, ecosystem integrity, political stability, and human lives.”
A medical analogy is more appropriate than the courtroom analogy—putting the planet on a diet of reduced fossil fuels and carbon dioxide based on the growing preponderance of evidence compared to proving the harmful effects of climate change beyond all reasonable doubt before any action is taken.
Sparks’ research at the INHS, which included long-term monitoring of plants and animals, shows that climate change is occurring. For example, blue catfish were once considered a southern species in the U.S. and occurred only sporadically in the St. Louis, MO area of the Mississippi River. Recent surveys have shown an abundant, reproducing population in that area. In another example, decades-old garden planting guides compared with contemporary versions show that planting zones have moved northward as the warming trend continues.
Although the social and economic sciences can help with decision-making, the authors do not presume that empirical analysis of risks or better analogies will end the skepticism surrounding climate change because skepticism is often motivated by financial interests tied to the use of fossil fuels.
“From my perspective, animals and plants are responding to climate change,” Sparks said. “Those who want to take action on climate change are labeled alarmists, but animals and plants don’t have an agenda. The consequences are so dire; we must take action.”
Media contact: Richard Sparks, 618-786-2811, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Science article is available at http://science.sciencemag.org/content/353/6300/653
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – 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.
Water hyacinth has been described as “the world’s worst aquatic weed,” lovely in the garden, but a nuisance in the river, according to Andy Casper, director of the Illinois River Biological Station of the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois. At this time of year, the plant can be spread easily.
“Water hyacinth is the aquatic version of kudzu,” Casper said. “It grows faster than any other plant competing with it, quickly taking over a pond or river-bed.”
As the plant spreads out over a water surface, it blocks the sun, so native plants can’t survive. Fish that once hid amongst the underwater plants to hunt for their prey and young fish that hide from predators experience a changed habitat.
Additionally, in the fall as the water hyacinth dies, it sinks to the river bottom, decomposes, taking the oxygen out of the water in the process. Too little oxygen can lead to large fish kills in the winter when oxygen is naturally in short supply.
Deliberately dumping water hyacinth plants in the waterways will cause the plant to spread, as well as composting plants too close to a river, stream, or drainage ditch. Backyard flooding can also cause the invasive plant to spread into nearby surface water areas.
In one case in which plants spread, an individual composted water hyacinth plants on a pile at the edge of a yard located close to the river. The result was a big pile of water hyacinth down river, Casper said.
“All it takes is one good growing season, and the plants take over,” he said.
In a survey of the entire Illinois River from Hennepin, IL to Joliet, IL by airplane and boat, INHS staff discovered 15 individual water hyacinth beds in the river. In addition, fish surveys also showed that whole water hyacinth seeds were present in the digestive tracts of carp, indicating a threat of dispersal of the seeds to other areas. Seeds were present in 27 percent of the digestive tracts of the common carp examined, regardless of their proximity to water hyacinth beds.
For proper disposal of water hyacinth, place plants in a plastic garbage bag and throw them away. Keep all plant parts away from waterbodies because the seeds are tiny and can be missed by the naked eye.
Water hyacinth is an economically important plant for the water gardening industry. For this reason, the sale of water hyacinth has not yet been prohibited by the State of Illinois, as the debate continues on whether it survives a cold winter, according to Pat Charlebois, INHS aquatic ecologist. Many states, and the City of Chicago have prohibited the sale of this plant.
Water hyacinth is just one of many invasive aquatic plants that should not be discarded in waterways. Hydrilla, a formerly common aquarium plant, is another plant that carries a financial toll when it spreads uncontrolled. Plants such as these clog waterways, impeding boat navigation. With government cleanup, millions of dollars may be spent, and recreational areas may be closed, reducing recreation-based incomes.
“Hydrilla is such an aggressive plant and spreads so quickly that it can take years to completely remove it in lakes and rivers,” Charlebois said. “Because of this, the State of Illinois has an early detection and rapid response plan in place in case hydrilla shows up in an area.”
Charlebois and colleague Greg Hitzroth, INHS outreach specialist, are seeking to change the behavior of people who purchase and use plants for outdoor water gardens and indoor aquariums, encouraging them to dispose of all aquatic plants in sealed plastic bags in the trash. Consumers can find a list of Illinois’ invasive plants at http://www.takeaim.org/files/8914/4225/6456/IL_consumer_2-28-146.pdf. The State of Illinois regulates some plants, but others, which are not regulated, can be just as much of a nuisance.
Consumers often look to retailers for advice on which plants to purchase and how to care for and dispose of them.
“We partner with retailers, educating them not only on which species should not be sold, but also giving them alternatives,” Hitzroth said. “We have had success with this effort because most retailers want to do the right thing.”
There’s a loophole in these efforts, though. “A huge market for aquatic plants is offered for sale online, which can be difficult to regulate,” Charlebois said. “This is a sticky wicket because retailers in another state may not know which plants cannot be sold or shipped to customers in Illinois.”
Charlebois and Hitzroth have been working with wholesalers, retailers, scientists, hobbyists, consumers, and others and attending hobbyists’ tradeshows to create outreach material that aims to prevent the spread of aquatic invaders in trade. They also worked on a statewide campaign about invasive species. Part of that effort is the Release Zero campaign, which aims to provide suggested alternatives to release plants based on published guidelines for teachers and water garden hobbyists from the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force (ANSTF).
More information about aquatic invaders in the market place (AIM) can be found at TakeAIM.org. Alternatives to the release of aquatics in trade can be found at ReleaseZero.org.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Guns, gear, gas for the truck, drinks for the cooler, and the faithful dog: such recreational expenses for a day of duck or goose hunting in Illinois add up to a big boost to the local economy, according to Craig Miller, human dimensions scientist at the University of Illinois’ Prairie Research Institute.
Before the start of the 2012-2013 hunting season, Miller and his team surveyed 5,000 waterfowl stamp buyers in Illinois to track typical expenditures of hunters for a big-picture view of the economic impact of a single hunting trip. The survey divided the direct expenses into three categories: transportation, food and beverages, and other shopping, services and entertainment.
Expenditures provided by hunters were analyzed using IMPLAN, an economics assessment modeling program used by the U.S. Forest Service and others to determine economic outputs.
Results from 1,882 hunters (42 percent) revealed that trip expenditures totaled $37.5 million, and durable goods expenditures, including clothing, decoys, guns, dogs, boats, and other costs, totaled $105 million. The total direct costs were $143 million.
“Adding the total direct and indirect costs equaled $261 million,” Miller said. “This impact is huge, and it’s the rural, local economies that benefit from this recreation market. Every dollar that waterfowl hunters spend generates $1.86 for the local economy. ”
A further breakdown of the survey showed that for each bird harvested in Illinois, $453 is generated for the economy. The sport also generates 2,556 jobs and contributed $20.5 million in state and local taxes.
Consequently, any policy or regulation changes such as a change in the length of the hunting season could have a significant impact on these rural economies.
“It is important to keep in mind that this is one recreation activity for one season. When we consider economic contributions across other hunting activities for multiple years, we begin to see the positive economic force that hunting has to our local, rural economies,” Miller said.
Media contact: Craig Miller, 217-244-0691; email@example.com
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.
Daniel Raudabaugh, "Taxonomy of Freshwater Fungi from Alkaline Stream and Bog Habitats"
Christian Millan-Hernandez, "Determining the Evolutionary Forces Driving Dryinidae (Hymenoptera: Chrysidoidea) Diversity"
Hannah Wahl, "Systematics and Biodiversity of Fungi Found in Deep-Water Sediments of the Great Lakes"
Aron Katz, "Comparative Phylogeography of Codistributed Cave-Adapted Springtails (Collembola)"
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."