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!

    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

    Midwest Fish and Wildlife Meeting

    UBAP herpetologist Sarah Baker co-organized a symposium “Advances and Challenges in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation and Management” and presented “Impact of Snake Fungal Disease on Population Viability” at the 78th Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference in Milwaukee, WI. Jan 28-31.

    Student Kelsey Low presented a poster on “Ranavirus Effects on Body Condition and Growth of Developing Amphibians in Created Wetlands”

    UBAP staff present at Biology of the Snakes Conference

    Members of the Urban Biotic Assessment Program, Michael J. Dreslik and Sarah J. Baker, recently attended and presented at the Biology of the Snakes 2017 Conference in Rodeo New Mexico. They gave two oral and two poster presentations.

    Oral Presentations
    Dreslik, M. J., C. E. Petersen, S. M. Goetz, J. D. Kleopfer, and A. H. Savitzky. Spatial ecology of the Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) from the mid-Atlantic coastal plain.

    Dreslik, M. J., J. A. Crawford, S. J. Baker, W. E. Peterman, and C. A. Phillips. Detection probability and capture yield of an imperiled species.

     

    Poster Presentations
    Baker, S. J., M. J. Dreslik, C. A. Phillips, and M. C. Allender. Impact of snake fungal disease on population viability.

    Dreslik, M. J., C. E. Petersen, S. M. Goetz, J. D. Kleopfer, and A. H. Savitzky. Factors affecting the movements of Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) from the mid-Atlantic coastal plain. View Poster

    UBAP staff present at the Joint Meeting of Ichtyhologists and Herpetologist

    Members of the Illinois Natural History Survey’s Urban Biotic Assessment Program and Herpetology Lab recently attended the Joint Meeting of American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, and Herpetologists’ League in Austin, Texas from 12 July to 16 July 2017. They presented on a variety of topics from rattlesnakes to darters and from wildlife disease to community changes. The combined topics for presentations and posters were:

     

    Presentations:

    Baker, S. J., M. J. Dreslik, C. A. Phillips, and M. C. Allender. Impact of snake fungal disease on population viability.

    Dreslik, M. J., C. E. Petersen, S. M. Goetz, J. D. Kleopfer, and A. H. Savitzky. Factors affecting the movements of Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) from the mid-Atlantic coastal plain.

    Low, K. M., M. C. Allender, C. A. Phillips, and S. J. Kimble. A ranavirus-associated mass mortality event in an Illinois amphibian community.

    Ross, J. P., C. Y. Feng, and M. J. Dreslik. Evaluating reptile and amphibian passage gates using remote camera traps.

    Sites, A. J., J. L. Sherwood, J. S. Tiemann, and M. J. Dreslik. Assessing the distribution of Iowa Darters (Etheostoma exile) in streams of northern Illinois.

     

    Posters:

    Baker, S. J., and M. C. Allender. Comparison of testing methods for snake fungal disease.

    Dreslik, M. J., C. E. Petersen, S. M. Goetz, J. D. Kleopfer, and A. H. Savitzky. Spatial ecology of the Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) from the mid-Atlantic coastal plain. View Poster

    Sherwood, J. L., and J. A. Stein. Habitat and fish community changes in Champaign County, IL over the past 100 years.