Graduate Student Tyler Stewart takes you on along on a search for the Kirtland’s Snake, Clonophis kirtlandii.
Read his story
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
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.
Members and affiliates of the PaCE Lab presented 5 papers and 3 posters at the 2019 Turtle Survival Alliance conference held in Tuscson Arizona August 4th-8th.
Baker, S. J., L Adamovicz, M. E. Merchant, and M. C. Allender. Site specific difference in health and immune function in Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina)
Dreslik, M. J., E. J. Kessler, J. P. Ross, K. A. Buhlmann, and P. P. van Dijk. Rapid demographic assessments for freshwater turtles: filling in data deficiencies.
Kessler, E. J., S. M. LaGrange, and M. J. Dreslik. Ontogeny of movement behavior in Alligator Snapping Turtles (Macrochelys temminckii): insights from a reintroduced population.
Merchant, M. E., L. Adamovicz, and S. J. Baker. Characterization of innate immunity of Eastern (Terrapene carolina) and Ornate (Terrapene ornata) Box Turtles.
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 (Emydoidea blandingii) population.
Edmonds, D, and M. J. Dreslik. Clutch size in an Illinois Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata) population.
Kessler, E. J., S. M. LaGrange, and M. J. Dreslik. The influence of age and season on basking in Alligator Snapping Turtles (Macrochelys temminckii).
LaGrange, S. M., E. J. Kessler, and M. E. Merchant. Bite force scaling across size classes in the Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) and Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina).
Continuing his tradition of long-term studies on reptile populations, PACE Lab leader Dr. Michael Dreslik and colleagues recently published a paper in Herpetologica analyzing the spatial ecology of the Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) in the Coastal Plain of Virginia. This study analyzed 17 years of radio telemetry data, with over 14,000 radio locations.
Crotalus horridus in the Coastal Plain are commonly called Canebrakes and occupy cane thickets, areas around swamps and river floodplains, forests, mountainous areas, and rural habitats. This differs from Illinois habitats which include heavily forested rock outcrops and bluffs.
This long-term study found that movement patterns observed in shorter term studies hold true:
Read the full paper in the current issue of Herpetologica.