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INHS - Special Publications

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cover image Illinois Birds
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INHS SP 31: Illinois Birds A Century of Change

Authors: Jeffery W. Walk, Michael P. Ward, Thomas J. Benson, Jill L. Deppe, Stacy A. Lischka, Steven D. Bailey, and Jeffery D. Brawn
2010, 230 p.

A project that began with two young men walking across rural Illinois toting shotguns and field glasses evolved into the first systematic bird survey in North America (Hickey 1981). When Stephen A. Forbes, Director of the Illinois Natural History Survey from its creation until 1930, directed Alfred Gross and Howard Ray to travel the state in 1906, no one in the country had yet attempted to count all the species of birds they observed across habitats, with a specific and repeatable method. Through 1909, Gross and Ray crisscrossed the state in all seasons, by foot, horseback, train, and steamboat, while counting and collecting the birds they saw.

In the mid-1950s, Richard and Jean Graber were newly hired ornithologists at the Illinois Natural History Survey. Among the first projects they undertook was to repeat the 50-year-old surveys during the summer and winter months of 1956-1958. The Grabers’ 1963 publication, “A Comparative Study of the Bird Populations of Illinois, 1906-1909 and 1956-1958,” remains the standard for assessing changes in bird populations of the state for the first half of the 20th century. With the exception of two obscure summer bird censuses by the U. S. Biological Survey (Cooke 1915, 1916), data on bird populations are scarce for most of North America until the Breeding Bird Survey began in the mid-1960s (Peterjohn et al. 1995).

From 2007-2009 we collected additional data that provide a bookend to what is now a 100-year bird survey. We present a summary of the changes to the summer bird populations and habitats across the state over the past century. Whereas our use of air-conditioned vehicles on interstate highways, use of Global Positioning System satellites to record our movements, and analysis of data on laptop computers would have been pure fantasy to our predecessors, their methods for counting birds in the field have been essentially retained.

This study provides three snapshots spanning a century. Important changes in the avifauna undoubtedly occurred within these windows, such as those documented by Charles Kendeigh at Trelease Woods near Urbana from 1922 to 1976. Kendeigh (1982) reported a spike in the abundance of arthropods and the forest birds that feed on them in the 1950s, when Dutch elm disease eliminated a common canopy tree and there was a surge of plant growth from the understory. The unique span of time and geographic scale are this study’s strengths. In Illinois, where land cover and land use have changed dramatically owing to agricultural practices and development, insights into the dynamics of bird communities and populations over a diverse suite of habitats are crucial to understanding the past, present, and future sustainability of the avifauna across Illinois and the Midwest. Our goal for this book is to summarize the results of surveys conducted across all three time periods. We direct our findings to a broad audience under four major headings: The Changing Illinois Landscape, Bird Communities Through Time, Species Accounts and Looking Back, Moving Forward.

Additional information on the book

Canaries in the Catbird Seat cover
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Canaries in the Catbird Seat: The Past, Present, and Future of Biological Resources in a Changing Environment

Editors: Christopher A. Taylor, John B. Taft and Charles E. Warwick
2009, 306 p.

Canaries in the Catbird Seat:The Past, Present, and Future of Biological Resources in a Changing Environment, this publication reflects the role of scientists and biologists who serve as “environmental sensors” through observation and research, much like the historic role of the mineshaft canary in alerting miners to low oxygen levels or poisonous gases. This colloquialism applies to institutions and scientists involved in biological monitoring and research because of the perspective gained by extensive experience across many ecosystems and species groups. The book describes the INHS and its staff, who, since 1858, have had the unique and privileged position of making observations and analyzing data collected throughout Illinois, the Midwest, and beyond. The 150-year time span of their studies is perhaps unparalleled for biological monitoring agencies in the United States. In celebration of the 150th anniversary of INHS, these observations were summarized and recounted to be accessible to citizens interested in our shared natural heritage and in context with the wider scientific community.

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The Illinois Breeding Bird Atlas

Authors: Kleen, V.M., L. Cordle, and R.A. Montgomery, 2004, 459 p.

Closeout sale price $9.99

The Illinois Breeding Bird Atlas presents a comprehensive summary of information about birds that currently breed in the state, based primarily on data from the Illinois Breeding Bird Atlas Project and the North American Breeding Bird Survey, as well as the knowledge gained over many years of experience with the state’s avifauna. As the word “atlas” implies, the book includes maps that illustrate the distribution of breeding bird species in Illinois, but it also includes information on their ranges, abundance, habitats, life histories, historical status, and recent population trends.

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INHS SP 29: Spunky Bottoms: Restoration of a Big-River Floodplain

Authors: Heske, E.J., J.R. Herkert, K.D. Blodgett, A.M. Lemke, Eds.
2007, 44 p.

Preface: Healthy, self-sustaining river systems provide important ecological and societal goods and services upon which human life depends (Postel and Richter 2003). Concern over sustaining these services has stimulated major restoration efforts, and river and stream restoration has now become a world-wild phenomenon (Palmer et al. 2005).

Despite the increased emphasis placed on river restoration, few projects are ever evaluated to assess their performance (Alexander and Allan 2006). There is a clear need to undertake meaningful monitoring of river restoration projects, not only to provide information on the effectiveness of the restorations themselves in ecological terms, but also to provide much needed data to help establish further the science of restoration (Giller 2005).

Ecological success in a restoration project cannot be assessed in the absence of clear project objectives from the start and subsequent evaluation of their achievement (Dahm et al. 1995). The goal of the Spunky Bottoms restoration project is “to restore native plant and animal communities that were characteristic of the Illinois River floodplain and to reconnect the river to the floodplain to allow movement of aquatic organisms” (Blodgett et al., this volume). The research presented in this volume provides an overview of the baseline data that were collected at The Conservancy’s Spunky Bottoms restoration project between 1998-2003. These data are intended to form the foundation of our efforts to evaluate progress toward our restoration goal.

Part 1 of these proceedings, provides an introduction to the restoration project at Spunky Bottoms. It begins with a paper by K. Douglas Blodgett et al. that describes the background and initial goals and restoration plans for The Nature Conservancy’s floodplain restoration project at Spunky Botts. The introduction section also includes a paper by Edwin R. Hajic that explores the interrelationships among Illinois River Valley wetlands, adjacent landforms, and the geomorphic processes that shaped these areas. Part 2 provides initial data from research on the aquatic systems of the site. This section includes papers that summarize research on the initial microbial communities (Tim Kelly), nitrogen and bacterial dynamics (Michael J. Lemke et al.), insect emergence patterns (A. Maria Lemke et al.), composition of the dragonfly and damselfly (Odonate) temporal patterns (Robert Novak), and development of the fish at the site are presented in Part 3, beginning with a study by Deborah Beal that provides some data on early changes in wetland plant species composition at the site. William Sluis then evaluates transplant survival of cordgrass and lake sedge. Four papers on vertebrates conclude the terrestrial systems section including preliminary surveys of reptiles and amphibians (John K. Tucker and Chris Phillips), small mammals (Edward J. Heske et al.), wetland birds (Tharran Hobson et al.), and waterfowl populations (Michelle M. Horath and Stephen P. Havera) at the site.

As the restoration of Spunky Bottoms continues, we will continue to monitor and evaluate progress towards our goal of restoring a dynamic and diverse floodplain community at the site in the hopes that the lessons learned at Spunky Bottoms can inform other large river restoration projects around the workl."
James R. Herkert, Director of Science
The Nature Conservancy of Illinois
1 February 2007

The Crayfishes of Kentucky
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INHS SP 28: The Crayfishes of Kentucky Authors: Christopher A. Taylor and Guenter A. Schuster 2004, 219 p.

Crayfishes, also known as crawfish, crawdads, or mudbugs, are a diverse and important component of freshwater aquatic and semi-aquatic ecosystems around the world. Their familiar form is recognizable by almost anyone who has spent time in and around lakes or creeks. Crayfishes are found natively on every continent except Africa and Antarctica and occur in almost every type of aquatic and semi-aquatic habitat.

This book intends to provide an up-to-date list of known crayfish species from the state of Kentucky. Distribution maps, illustrations, photos, and a key are provided to assist those interested in identifying Kentucky crayfishes. Information on the habitat and biology of each species is also provided, as is a summary of the historical efforts of crayfish biologists, or astacologists, in the state.

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INHS SP 23: Status and Functions of Isolated Wetlands in Illinois

Sale Price $1.00

Authors: Levin, G.A., L. Suloway, A.E. Plocher, F.R. Hutto, J.J. Miner, C.A. Phillips, J. Agarwal, and Y. Lin
2002, 16 p.

Executive Summary (abbreviated): More than half of the wetlands in the conterminous United States have been destroyed, and Illinois has lost about 90% of its wetlands. In a effort to slow further loss, wetlands were protected under the federal Clean Water Act. However, the 2001 United States Supreme Court decision in Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. United States Army Corps of Engineers ruled that federal protection under the Clean Water Act does not extend to “non-navigable, isolated, intrastate” wetlands. This action has left a large but undetermined number of isolated wetlands without this protection. This report summarizes the functions of isolated wetlands and estimates the number and extent of isolated wetlands in Illinois.

Legacy of a Pest cover
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INHS SP 09: Legacy of a Pest: A Science, Technology, and Society Curriculum Guide for Understanding and Dealing with Biological Problems

Sale Price $1.00

Authors: Laurie J. Case, Janet L. Wissmann and Michael R. Jeffords
Illustrated by John P. Sherrod and Janet L. Wissmann
1988, 243 p.
("Life Cycle of the Gypsy Moth" poster also included)

Provides teaching materials for science teachers to use to foster an understanding of all aspects of insect control. The 50+ activities included provide science teachers with an exceptional resource to use in teaching the relationships between science, technology, and society. Some topics include: Food Webs, Insect Awareness, Biogeography, Taxonomy, Insect Development and Control of Insects. These activities were written for grades 5-10, but some might be adaptable to other age groups.



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INHS SP 07: Microlepidoptera From the Sandy Creek and Illinois River Region: An Annotated Checklist of the Suborders Dacnonypha, Monotrysia, and Ditrysia (in part) (insecta)

Authors: Godfrey, G.L., E.D. Cashatt, and M.O. Glenn
1987, 44p

This paper reports the faunal, phonological, and host plant data associated with a collection of about 30,000 microlepidoptera representing 954 species. Collected by the late Murray O. Glenn between 1927 and 1976 in Marshall and Putnam counties, Illinois, and donated to the Illinois Natural History Survey in 1977, this collection may represent the most complete and significant assemblage of midwestern microlepidoptera in existence(Godfrey 1978). It is rivaled perhaps only by that of the late Annette F. Braun, Cincinnati, Ohio, a collection that now resides in The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (R.W. Hodges, pers. comm.), except for a synoptic set of specimens given to the University of Louisville (C.V. Covell, Jr., pers. comm.). A substantial amount of Glenn material is also preserved in the United States National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution. Glenn's persistent collecting activities, coupled with his careful labeling and preparation techniques, resulted in valuable data that have application to current and future ecological and systematic research and to inventorying natural resources of Illinois. This information, therefore, is made available here to aid investigators in these and related disciplines.

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INHS SP 04: A Review of the Problem of Lead Poisoning in Waterfowl

Authors: Sanderson, G.C., and F.C. Bellrose
1986, 34p

Abstract (abbreviated): Waterfowl die from ingesting lead shotgun pellets deposited in the bottoms of lakes and marshes and in fields. In most instances, they die after ingesting 1 or 2 pellets, their bodies wasting away over a period of several weeks, losing from 30 to 50 percent of normal weight. No other disease produces such a consistent chronic weight loss. Less frequently, a large number of shot are ingested, an acute form of lead poisoning results, and the bird dies in good weight. More definitive diagnoses of lead toxicosis have been made from levels of lead in wing bones, in blood, and in the liver and other organs.


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