Graduate student Alma Schrage wins scholarship

PACE Lab graduate student Alma Schrage was selected to receive this year’s Mary Jane Neer Scholarship. Alma is a graduate student in the Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences department studying bumblebees including the federally endangered Rusty-patched Bumblebee.

Earlier this year, Alma won 2nd place for a student poster at the Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference for her poster:

“Foraging and nesting habitat of Bombus community in documented B. affinis site in northern Illinois”

eDNA used to detect Alligator Snapping Turtles

PACE Lab member Ethan Kessler’s paper on using eDNA to detect Alligator Snapping Turtles was covered by the University of Illinois Department of ACES.

See complete story at ACES News

The paper “Radiotelemetry reveals effects of upstream biomass and UV exposure on environmental DNA occupancy and detection for a large freshwater turtle,” is available in Environmental DNA

INHS PACE Lab well represented at Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference

With 10 oral presentations, 7 posters, and 2 awards for graduate students, the INHS PACE Lab showed their might at this year’s Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, held in Springfield, Illinois, January 26-29.

Alma Schrage won the Illinois Chapter of the Wildlife Society’s 2nd place student award for her poster “Foraging and nesting habitat of Bombus community in documented B. affinis site in northern Illinois”

Ethan Kessler won 2nd place for student oral presentation for his talk “The Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) reintroduction in Illinois: an adaptive approach.”

Congratulations to both!

 

Other lab members presenting included:

Presentations

  1. Crawford, J. A., A. R. Kuhns, and C. A. Phillips. Efficacy of created wetlands for amphibian population persistence in forested ecosystems.
  2. Curtis, A. N, J. S. Tiemann, S. A. Douglass, M. A. Davis, and E. R. Larson. eDNA is not always easy: methodological studies for the advancement of eDNA applications to fish and wildlife conservation.
  3. Edmonds, D. A., and M. J. Dreslik. Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata) demography in Illinois.
  4. Hohoff, T. C., J. A. Kath, A. B. Cable, and M. A Davis. Illinois’s chiropteran landscape: leveraging NaBat acoustic data to inform conservation of Illinois’ bat biodiversity.
  5. Holtswarth, J. N., E. R. Larson, J. S. Tiemann, J. L. Sherwood, P. Willink, and K. Ash. Genetic analysis of the rapid expansion of Banded Killifish (Fundulus diaphanus) in Illinois.
  6. Kessler, E. J., S. Ballard, and M. J. Dreslik. The Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) reintroduction in Illinois: an adaptive approach.
  7. Phillips, C. A., A. R. Kuhns, J. A. Crawford, M. J. Dreslik, and J. Adams. Surveys for Kirtland’s snakes in Illinois.
  8. Rahlin, A. A., M. L. Niemiller, and M. A. Davis. Testing the effectiveness of eDNA metagenomics to detect endemic wetland bird species.
  9. Ross, J. P., D. Thompson, and M. J. Dreslik. Population viability analysis and the role of head-starting for a northern Illinois Blanding’s Turtle population.
  10. Jesper, A. C. B., and M. J. Dreslik. Over-wintering phelology of the threatened Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) in Illinois.

 

Posters

  1. Andree, S., S. A. Douglass, and A. Stodola. Shell shape and body mass index of two freshwater mussels differs with age and location.
  2. Callahan, S. A., A. R. Kuhns, J. A. Crawford, C. A. Phillips, and M. J. Dreslik. Phenology of breeding migrations of three Ambystoma species.
  3. Douglass, S. A., E. J. Kessler, and M. J. Dreslik. Freshwater mussel movement in the Kishwaukee River, Rockford, Illinois.
  4. Dreslik, M. J., J. P. Wiker, T. L. Esker, and J. M. Mui. Status of borer moths (Papaipema) in Illinois with an emphasis on the Rattlesnake-master borer.
  5. Kuhns, A. R., J. A. Crawford, C. A. Phillips, M. Corcoran, and M. J. Dreslik. Herpetofaunal species of greatest conservation need in forested wetlands of southern Illinois.
  6. LaGrange, S. M., L. Adamowicz, M. C. Allender, S. J. Baker, and M. J. Dreslik. Long-term monitoring of snake fungal disease in the Eastern Massasauga in Illinois.
  7. Schrage, A. C., J. L. Robinson, and M. J. Dreslik. Foraging and nesting habitat of Bombus community in documented B. affinis site in northern Illinois.

New Field Herpetology Techniques class being offered for Spring 2020

NRES 285 FHT CRN 46194

NRES 499 GHT CRN 54944

FIELD HERPETOLOGY TECHNIQUES

SPRING 2020

This course is designed for students considering careers or graduate work studying wild amphibian and reptile populations. We will introduce students to techniques used in monitoring and research of amphibians and reptiles including methods for sampling, capturing, measuring, and marking herpetological populations and communities.

We will focus on the types of data often collected and basic statistical analyses used. The course will be designed around brief lectures followed by field trips to study sites where students will get hands-on experience with field techniques, which include methods to determine distribution and abundance; marking and measuring; movement patterns and home range size. The course will culminate in a three-day field trip to southern Illinois where students will get to employ many of the techniques they have learned in the class.

More information and registration on NRES Course Explorer

Using three decades of data to save turtles

Champaign, IL – Protecting and restoring habitats are the most important steps that can be undertaken to protect turtle populations into the future according to a pair of recent papers analyzing 3 decades of data.

The Spotted Turtle, Clemmys guttata, is a small semi-aquatic turtle that inhabits sedge meadow, cattail marsh, wet-mesic prairie, and dolomite prairie in Illinois. It is protected as an endangered species in Illinois, which is at the western edge of its range. The two known populations in Illinois have been the focus of mark-recapture studies since 1988.

Recent analysis found that Spotted Turtle populations are limited by the amount of available habitat, suggesting that management efforts should focus on increasing suitable habitat. Control of cattails (Typha sp.) and restoration of sedges would increase the amount of available habitat.

Adults have a higher survival rate than younger turtles. Predators including raccoons and muskrats can eradicate eggs and juvenile turtles. While caging nests and headstarting juveniles will help the younger turtles, controlling predator populations could benefit all age classes.

Feng, C.Y.; Ross, J.P.; Mauger, D.; Dreslik, M.J. A Long-Term Demographic Analysis of Spotted Turtles (Clemmys guttata) in Illinois Using Matrix Models. Diversity. 2019, 11, 226. doi:10.3390/d11120226

Feng, C.Y.; Mauger, D.; Ross, J.P.; Dreslik, M.J. Size and Structure of Two Populations of Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) at Its Western Range Limit. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 14(3):648–658

 

Spotted, Blanding’s, and Wood turtle ​ ​conservation symposium

PACE Lab head Michael Dreslik and herpetologist Jason Ross presented at the 2019 Spotted, Blanding’s, and Wood turtle conservation symposium held in West Virginia this November.

http://www.americanturtles.org/2019symposium.html

Population Viability Analysis and the Role of Head-starting for a northern Illinois Blanding’s Turtle Population

Rapid Demographic Assessments for Freshwater Turtles: Filling in Data Deficiencies

Radio telemetry used to improve environmental DNA use

Alligator Snapping Turtle

Environmental DNA (eDNA) is an emerging tool used to detect rare and difficult to detect species. A recent study by INHS PACE Lab herpetologists used radio telemetry to evaluate and improve the efficiency of this technique.

As part of a species reintroduction program, hatchling Alligator Snapping Turtles reared in captivity were tracked using radio telemetry to assess their survival. This work provided an ideal system for evaluating the efficacy and limitations of using eDNA to detect a bottom dwelling riverine turtle. At each radio location, water samples were collected as well as upstream and downstream of the turtle.

The researchers found that eDNA can be used to detect a benthic turtle species but that detection can be diminished by UV exposure from open canopy. This study shows the importance of continuing to use traditional methods such as radio telemetry to better understand the dynamics of eDNA in the environment.

 

Read the complete paper in Environmental DNA

White Cedar project presented at Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Symposium

Sara Johnson, of the Molano-Flores lab at the Illinois Natural History Survey, presented a poster and lightning talk about Illinois Tollway funded research on the Effects of Soluble Salt on the Germination of Thuja occidentalis at the Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Symposium in Maumee Bay, Ohio last week. This conference was the first symposium hosted by Audubon Great Lakes in partnership with the Great Lakes Coastal Assembly and Great Lakes Commission. Sara is a student representative for the North Central Chapter of the Society of Wetland Scientists and acts as Treasurer for the Student Chapter of the society at UIUC.

PaCE Lab at the Illinois State Fair

Smokey Bear using snake tongs

Members of the PaCE Lab exhibited in Conservation World at the 2019 Illinois State Fair, providing information and education to over 500 visitors. In addition to displays about the research being done by the group, visitors were able to try their hand at using actual field equipment used by scientists in their daily work.

The Illinois Bat Conservation Program had a mist net deployed where visitors could untangle, identify, and measure bats, all while wearing leather gloves.

The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation group had snake tongs, hooks, calipers, and radio telemetry equipment available for visitors to try to wrangle snakes into a snake bag, measure turtles, or track a hidden turtle.

Other activities included Build-a-Bug, where people can assemble the arthropod of their dreams (or nightmares) from a variety of general and specialized appendages, Wheel of Migration, about the risks migratory birds face, and locating PIT-tagged animals.

Smokey Bear using snake tongs
Gray Treefrog picked the right tent to visit
Wheel of Migration
Build a Bug
Vin Vasive wrangling a snake with a hook
Build-a-Bug