Where do those pet frogs come from?

  • red and black frog
    Ranitomeya reticulata: Red-backed Poison Frog

Photos by Devin Edmonds

PACE Lab doctoral student Devin Edmonds investigated the origins of poison frogs in the pet trade, tracking down ethical and illegal sources. The results of his study were published in Herpetological Review.

Read the full story here!

Massasauga hibernacula at Carlyle Lake are genetically distinct units

Genetic analysis shows that the Eastern Massasauga hibernacula at Carlyle Lake are genetically distinct units.

Once found across the northern two-thirds of Illinois, populations of the Eastern Massasauga have declined, with only one known population remaining in Illinois. Our long term studies have found the top four sources of mortality to include automobiles, predation, management related mortality (prescribed burns, mowing, etc), and disease. Our current study indicates that efforts to address these ecological threats may not be enough to save this imperiled species.

The area under what is now known as Carlyle Lake was a floodplain valley known as Boulder Bottoms. The creation of Carlyle Lake in the 1960s flooded this area, separating habitats on the the east and west sides of the Kaskaskia River, pushing wildlife, including the Eastern Massasauga, to the edges between the lake and agricultural fields.  These bands of habitat are separated by the lake, paved roads, agriculture, and urbanization, potentially limiting migration and gene flow between patches.

Our current study looked at 327 genetic samples collected between 1999 and 2015 from individuals at 9 hibernacula across 3 study areas at Carlyle Lake. Study sites separated by up to 5 km had limited gene flow, as did hibernacula separated by a few hundred meters. This restriction of gene flow increases the vulnerability of these already imperiled populations.

Our study indicates that conservation and recovery efforts need to consider genetic rescue efforts in addition to reduction of ecological threats. Such efforts may include translocations and captive rearing to reduce the impacts of inbreeding depression and genetic drift. Even short distance translocations between the different study areas at Carlyle Lake could help restore  gene flow impeded by contemporary human created fragmentation.

Read the paper at PLOS One

Anthonysamy, Whitney J.B., Michael J. Dreslik, Sarah J. Baker, Mark A. Davis, Marlis R. Douglas, Michael E. Douglas, and Christopher A. Phillips. 2022. Limited gene flow and pronounced population genetic structure of Eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus) in a Midwestern prairie remnant. PLOS ONE: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0265666

    2021 Midwest PARC conference

    The INHS Population and Community Ecology Lab had four posters at the 2021 Midwest Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Virtual Conference, October 1-2, 2021.

     

    Colton, Andrea L., E. L. Sunnucks, and M. J. Dreslik. Community Structure of Freshwater Turtles in Northeastern Illinois Marshes.

     

     

    Edmonds, Devin A., A. Colton, E. Sunnucks, I. Jaquet, and M. J. Dreslik. Timing of prescribed burns to avoid Ornate Box Turtles (Terrapene ornata).

     

    Lorenzen, Brock C., A. R. Kuhns, J. A. Crawford, C. A. Phillips, and M. J. Dreslik. Halting the Decline of a Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum) population: A Conservation Success Story.

     

    Predicted distribution of kirtland's snake in illinoisStewart, Tyler M., A. R. Kuhns, J. A. Crawford, C. A. Phillips, and M. J. Dreslik. Predicted Distribution of Kirtland’s Snake (Clonophis kirtlandii) in Illinois.

    Congratulations to M.S. student Tyler Stewart who won the Brodman Student Award for excellence in presenting a poster!

    2021 NRES Symposium

    PACE Lab graduate students presented at the Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences Symposium, April 17th, 2021.

      • Alma C. Schrage presented “Bumble Bee Detection and Occupancy in Northern Illinois” Click for more info
      • Devin Edmonds presented “Informing the Mantella cowanii Conservation Action Plan” Click for more info
      • Anastasia Rahlin presented “Spatial and temporal drivers of marsh bird occupancy in an urbanized matrix” Click for more info
      • Tyler Stewart presented “Distribution and Detection Probability for Kirtland’s Snake (Clonophis kirtlandii)” Click for more info

    New paper on habitat restoration impacts on box turtles

    Eastern Box Turtle growth is influenced by environmental conditions which in turn can be influenced by vegetative structure. Removal of Autumn Olive and Russian Olive at a site in Illinois occurred during a 16 year mark-recapture study allowing us to analyze impacts of removal on the growth of turtles. The data showed that removing the invasive plants may not negatively impact the growth of the turtles and that growth is variable by individual. This is attributed to reptile growth being influenced by more than just environmental conditions, including genetics.

    Read the paper: Edmonds, D., A.R. Kuhns, and M.J. Dreslik. 2020. Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) growth and the impacts of invasive vegetation removal. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 15(3):588–596.

    Saving the Harlequin Mantella

    Mantella cowani frog

    PACE Lab graduate student Devin Edmonds has been working to save one of the most threatened amphibian species in Madagascar. Listen to an interview he did with Amphibiacast about Mantella frogs, his time working in Madagascar, and his graduate research to conserve the Harlequin Mantella. A new conservation action plan will be released in the coming months.

    Listen to the episode

    Learn more about Devin’s research

     

    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