Illinois Natural History Survey News

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  • Survey finds farmers feel responsibility to protect land and waters

    Agricultural producers are typically blamed for applying fertilizer that pollutes local waters and carries oxygen-depleting nitrogen and phosphorus to the northern Gulf of Mexico. However, a strong majority of Illinois farmers believe they are doing their part to protect the environment, according to a study from the University of Illinois’ Prairie Research Institute (PRI).

  • Arsenic, mercury and selenium in Asian carp not a health concern to most

    A recent study by INHS researchers Jeffrey M. Levengood, David J. Soucek, Gregory G. Sass, Amy Dickinson, and John M. Epifanio showed that overall, concentrations of arsenic, selenium, and mercury in bighead and silver carp from the lower Illinois River do not appear to be a health concern for a majority of human consumers. The full results of the study have been published in the journal Chemosphere.

  • Study Finds Recent Size Changes in Illinois River Mussel Shells

    Man-made levees and water pollution have made an impact on the fish and other fauna of the Illinois River throughout the 20th century, but researchers at the Prairie Research Institute (PRI), University of Illinois, have taken an even longer view of human-induced changes in freshwater mussels, dating back to pre-Columbian times.

  • Bullfrogs insensitive to road salt

    INHS post doctoral researcher Tanya Hawley Matlaga, INHS Herpetologist Chris Phillips, and INHS Ecotoxicologist David Soucek report that bullfrogs are less sensitive to elevated chloride concentrations than some other amphibian species. The study was designed to mimic the level of salt found in roadside ponds following de-icing events. The study found that bullfrog tadpoles did not experience reduced survival, growth, or ability to evade predation in elevated chloride concentrations, and thus, their populations are not expected to be impacted by road salt. While this is good news for bullfrogs, it's an additional stress for other species inhabiting ponds with these voracious predators.

  • Widespread Shallow Groundwater Contamination Found in Southwestern Illinois Cave Streams and Springs

    Researchers have detected prescription and over-the-counter medications and personal care products in Illinois groundwater, an indication that humans are contaminating water that is vital to aquatic life.

  • Researchers Reconstruct the Stonefly Fauna of Ohio

    The aquatic nymphs of stoneflies are indicators of water and habitat quality and quantity. Loss of this habitat is resulting in rapid decline of many species, which are at serious risk of disappearing from agricultural and urban areas of the Midwest, according to Ed DeWalt, aquatic entomologist at the Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois.

  • Illinois otters have highest dieldrin levels

    INHS Researcher Samantha Carpenter was featured in an article in Michigan State University's Great Lakes Echo, about the high levels of dieldrin and other contaminants in the bodies of river otters. Carpenter was lead author on a study published in October in the journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety.

  • Banned chemicals persist in river otters

    INHS researchers Samantha Carpenter and Nohra Mateus-Pinilla recently published a paper in the journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety. Carpenter, Mateus-Pinilla, and University of Illinois Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory researchers, analyzed liver tissue samples from 23 river otters looking at 20 organohalogenated compounds used in agriculture and industry. Read stories from the Red Orbit and News Room America.