Graduate Student Tyler Stewart takes you on along on a search for the Kirtland’s Snake, Clonophis kirtlandii.
Read his story
PACE Lab herpetologists Andrea Colton and Emily Sunnucks wrote about their experiences continuing our research into the endangered Blanding’s Turtle in northeastern Illinois.
Read about a day in their life in “Behind the Scenes”
PACE Lab graduate student Alma Schrage is surveying sites in northeastern Illinois for the Federally endangered Rusty Patched Bumblebee, including sites that have been restored by the Illinois Tollway. Schrage was recently interviewed by the Chicago Tribune about the work.
Read the full story here
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.
“Foraging and nesting habitat of Bombus community in documented B. affinis site in northern Illinois”
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
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:
FIELD HERPETOLOGY TECHNIQUES
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
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
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.
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
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