Illinois Natural History Survey News

Illinois Natural History Survey News

  • 12/30/2014

    springtailINHS 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. 


  • 11/3/2014

    alligator snapping turtleThe 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

  • 10/28/2014

    butterflies of illinoisThe 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).

  • 10/15/2014

    leafhoppersA 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.

    Press Release

    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"

  • 9/17/2014

    caterpillar on leadHerbivores (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

    Published 17 September 2014 doi: 10.1098/rspb.2014.1841 Proc. R. Soc. B 7 November 2014 vol. 281 no. 1794 20141841

    Press release

  • 9/2/2014

    botanistsAs 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

  • 8/15/2014

    wetzel receiving awardMark 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.

    Read more

  • 8/1/2014

    Ethan releasing a turtleIllinois 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

  • 7/30/2014

    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.


    Read the news release from the University of Illinois News Bureau

    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

    View on YouTube

  • 7/16/2014

    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

    Watch a video of the Massasauga research project:


  • 7/14/2014

    Paul RisserDr. Paul Gillan Risser passed away 10 July 2014 at the age of 74.  Dr. Risser served at the 5th Chief of the Illinois Natural History Survey (1981-1986).  After receiving his PhD in Botany and Soils from University of Wisconsin in 1967, Risser returned to his home state of Oklahoma, joining the faculty of University of Oklahoma. He also served as assistant director of the Oklahoma Biological Station, director of the Oklahoma Biological Survey and chairman of the Department of Botany and Microbiology before leaving in 1981 to join the INHS as Chief.

    During his time at INHS, Dr. Risser oversaw the 125th Anniversary Scientific Symposium and open house and was author or co-author on 23 papers, book chapters, and conference proceedings.  He published over 100 scientific papers and wrote or edited 6 books during his career, including the often cited "The True Prairie Ecosystem," published in 1981.

    Dr. Risser left INHS in 1986 to become Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at University of New Mexico.  In 1992 he went on to become President of Miami University of Ohio, before taking the position of President at Oregon State University in 1996.  In 2002, Dr. Risser returned home to Oklahoma, as chancellor of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education.  He went on to become the Acting Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and Chair and Chief Operating Officer of the University of Oklahoma Research Cabinet.

    Dr. Risser led a distinguished career, both in science and in administration.  In celebration of his life and recognition of his unwavering commitment to education, the family suggests contributions to the Paul G. Risser Scholarship Fund at the University of Oklahoma. Checks may be written to the University of Oklahoma Foundation, 100 Timberdell Road, Norman, OK 73019.

    Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education
    The Oregonian
    Albuquerque Journal

    Oregon State University Library Papers of Dr. Paul Risser

    Bibliography of works while at INHS

  • 7/14/2014

    mosquitoThe Illinois Natural History Survey Medical Entomology Lab has reported the first positive tests for West Nile Virus this year from samples collected in Evanston.  For more information on the Medical Entomology Program, visit our website:

    Read the article in the Evanston Patch

  • 6/24/2014

    be a hero transport zeroThe Awards for Publication Excellence (APEX) are given each year by Communication Concepts to recognize outstanding publication work in a variety of fields, and one of the Illinois Natural History Survey projects was selected this year for an award.
    Sarah Zack, Pat Charlebois, and their IL-IN Sea Grant colleague Jason Brown were awarded in the Green Campaigns, Programs & Plans category for their work on our “Be A Hero – Transport Zero” campaign and messaging, and for the website. The campaign is designed to show boaters, fishermen, and other recreational water users how simple it can be to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species between water bodies.

    Read more at the Lakeside Views Blog.

  • 6/24/2014

    lab photoRoger Melo, a PhD student in Brazil, spent 6 months at INHS through the Science Without Borders program.  An interview on his experiences was written up for the "INCT Herbario Virtual da Flora e dos Fungos."  During his time at INHS, Melo worked under INHS Mycologist Andy Miller in the Evers Laboratory examining and identifying collections of fungi from Brazil.

    Read the interview here:

    If your browser does not automatically translate from Portuguese, download a pdf here.

  • 6/9/2014

    pat receiving awardINHS Lake Michigan Biological Station's Aquatic Invasive Species oordinator, Pat Charlebois, was honored as Professional of the Year by the Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month Committee.

    "Pat is receiving this award for her leadership in aquatic invasive species education, outreach, messaging, and policy throughout the state. Pat’s hard work has contributed significantly to increasing the public’s awareness of aquatic invasive species. Through her efforts, the new 'Be a Hero, Transport Zero' campaign is being expanded towards a comprehensive campaign to address all invasive species spread throughout Illinois. In addition, Pat has been instrumental in supporting policy changes, such as the addition of 27 new aquatic plants to the Illinois Injurious Species list."

    For more information, visit the Illinois Indiana Seagrant Blog - Lakeside Views

    or the Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month Blog

  • 6/2/2014

    Project F-69-R, also known as the “Sport Fish Population and Sport Fishing Metric” project, is developing a Fish Quality Index that will help fisheries biologists evaluate and compare the quality of sport fishing for various species in different water bodies.  The collaborative project is headed by INHS Sport Fish Ecologist Jeff Stein.  This information can be used to inform anglers of the best places to catch a particular species and to help fisheries biologists manage those species.

    Read the full article in Outdoor News.

    Read more about Project F-69-R

    Visit our website for more information on the Sport Fish Ecology Lab's research projects.

  • 6/2/2014

    bats roostingINHS Mammalian Ecologist Ed Heske was featured in an article about White Nose Syndrome where he said that the situation "looks kind of pessimistic."  Heske is part of a multidisciplinary team led by INHS researchers, that has been surveying Illinois caves for signs of WNS over the past three years.  Heske told the Chicago Tribune,  "We can only hope that some kind of natural resistance emerges from this, like West Nile that does not have the impact it once had.  But bats won't come back like birds because they do not reproduce as fast."

    Read the full article in the Chicago Tribune

    Visit our website for more information on White Nose Syndrome research at INHS

  • 5/17/2014

    Illinois River Biological Station director Andrew Casper and affiliate Kevin Irons were guests on WTVP's "At Issue" to discuss invasive species and their impact throughout the Illinois River watershed. A variety of invasives were discussed, including Rusty Crayfish, Round Goby, Grass Carp, Asian Carp, and Zebra Mussels

    Watch the video here.

  • 5/16/2014

    Steve TaylorINHS Invertebrate Biologist Dr. Steven J. Taylor can be seen in the new David Attenborough documentary on the Galapagos Islands.  Steve was filmed while studying the invertebrate communities in volcanic tubes.

    Watch the segment on volcanic tubes

    Watch from the beginning

    For more information visit Steve Taylor's website.

  • 5/16/2014

    book coverMichael Jeffords and Susan Post recently published a book through the University of Illinois Press, "Exploring Nature in Illinois."  The book shares information on many of their favorite locations to explore in Illinois and how to find interesting things while you are at it.  

    The book is available through the U of I Press and was featured in an article in The Southern.

  • 5/9/2014

    graph of sandpipersFor the last 40 years, one day each spring, birders across Illinois go out and identify as many species of birds as they can.  This data is compiled into a database managed by the Illinois Natural History Survey.

    Visit our website for more information on the Spring Bird Count.

    Northern Public Radio featured the Spring Bird Count

  • 5/1/2014

    millerINHS Mycologist Andy Miller was interviewed for an article about hunting mushrooms in Illinois.  

    "This time of year folks are hunting morels, which seem to grow best if the temperatures are around 75F during the day and 50F at night and there is ample rainfall. Also, these conditions frequently coincide with the flowering of May apples and oak leaves being 1/2 to 3/4" long. We've had anything but steady temperatures this Spring, but with the recent rainfall, if the temperatures would increase slightly, hopefully the morels would start appearing. This season has definitely been delayed by at least a month compared to previous years."

    Read the whole interview.

    For more information on mycological research, visit the Miller Laboratory Page.

  • 4/16/2014

    fish predationA recent study by INHS Sport Fisheries Ecologist Jeff Stein suggests that anglers involved in catch and release fishing should release male largemouth bass as quickly as possible to return to nest guarding.  "One of the main conclusions of the study was that in a lake where there are very few brood predators, when you angle a male away from his nest and then immediately release him, the chance of a negative impact is less, but if the nest is located in a part of a lake where there is a high density of brood predators, once the male is removed, predators get into the nest very quickly," said Stein. "On average, the time it took brood predators to begin eating bass young was less than five minutes in cases where the nest was located near schools of brood predators."

    Read an article about the study in Nature World News.

    Read the paper in Environmental Biology of Fishes.

    Visit our website for more information on the Sportfish Ecology Lab.

  • 3/25/2014

    Kevin and passenger pigeonOn Sept. 1, 1914, Martha, the last living passenger pigeon, died at the Cincinnati Zoo.  This seemingly abundant bird had been decimated by hunting, leaving them vulnerable to other predators.

    Following the opening of an exhibit at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, INHS Ornithologist Kevin Johnson, who reconstructed the family tree of the passenger pigeon, was interviewed.

    "For the first time, people became aware that you could have this super abundant bird that everyone knew about, and that people could actually cause their extinction," Johnson said. "I guess that raised public awareness that humans can cause the extinction of animals on a scale that hadn't really been done before."

    The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 was established to protect certain migratory birds.

    Remembering the passenger pigeon 100 years later

    Press release from Long-extinct passenger pigeon finds a place in the family tree

  • 3/24/2014

    Stick bugFollowing the discovery of fossil stick insects by a team of Chinese and French scientists, INHS Paleontologist Sam Heads and Illinois State Entomologist Chris Dietrich were contacted by National Geographic to comment.

    Heads told National Geographic that the discovery of fossilized plant mimicking insects, "is yet more tantalizing evidence of early insect-plant coevolution."

    Dietrich added that there may be more discoveries to be made in collections of fossil insects waiting to be examined.

    National Geographic Article