Current-Year Manuscripts

Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science [Volume 109 (2016)]

Population Trends and a Distributional Record of Selected Fish Species from the Illinois River

Authors: Levi E. Solomon, Richard M. Pendleton, Robert A. Hrabik, and Andrew F. Casper (109-09MS1683Final)

Illinois has a rich history of knowledge regarding the status and distribution of native and non-native fish species throughout the state. In addition, ongoing collections and publications continue to update this knowledge base. However, recent collections in the lower Illinois River show the need for an update of current knowledge for two species, Shoal Chub Macrhybopsis hyostoma and Channel Shiner Notropis wickliffi, and a verified distributional record of Banded Darter Etheostoma zonale.


Response of Illinois Deer to Winter Weather

Authors: Charles M. Nixon and Philip C. Mankin (109-07MS1155Final)

Winters can be a significant factor affecting white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) physical condition, daily behavior, survival, and fecundity. Using harvest data and deer marked in east central and northern Illinois, we examined the effects of snow cover and temperatures on fawn:doe ratios in the deer harvest, fawn recruitment from marked females, female migration behavior, deer survival, and the daily behavior of both sexes when exposed to winter conditions. There was no significant correlation between total winter snow cover or temperature deviations from normal and fawn:doe ratios in the 11-yr deer harvest data used for this analysis. Recruitment to weaning age of fawns born to marked adult females was positively correlated with the previous 2-yr and 3-yr snow accumulations, apparently due to increased survival of older females during snowy winters. In winter, deer avoided bottomland forests and selected younger forests providing more understory cover. Females remained in forest cover and avoided open crop fields when snow was present. For 7 migrating females, snow cover in early December affected return frequencies to the natal range. Snow depths in excess of 10 cm appeared to trigger a return to the winter range while lesser snow accumulations did not. Temperature deviations from normal did not influence female movement back to the winter range.


The Effects of Agricultural Land Use on Benthic Macroinvertebrate Communities and the Applicability of Family Level Bioassessment Metrics in Southern Illinois Headwater Streams

Authors: Nathan J. Boyer-Rechlin, Gregory L. Bruland, Michael A. Rechlin (109-08MS1089Final)

Benthic macroinvertebrates were sampled from fifteen headwater streams, covering a gradient from five to eighty percent agricultural watershed land use/land cover (LULC), in Jersey County, Illinois. A sub-sample of invertebrates was identified to the family taxonomic level. Communities were analyzed in conjunction with LULC distributions calculated at three spatial scales: watershed, 150m stream buffer, and 50m stream buffer. Most streams exhibited similar invertebrate community composition, characterized by low diversity, an absence of pollution intolerant taxa, and a dominance of hydropsychid caddisflies and gammarid amphipods. Exceptions to this trend included three streams, which displayed communities consisting of almost all non-insectan taxa, and one stream, which had a notable population of Perlodidae (Plecoptera). Hilsenhoff’s family biotic index (FBI), Shannon-Weiner diversity, and taxa richness and evenness were also calculated to assess stream degradation. None of these bioassessment metrics correlated with LULC. However, percent agriculture was significantly correlated with percent Hydropsychidae (Trichoptera) and percent Gammaridae (Amphipoda). This suggests that while agricultural development alters benthic communities in the Middle Mississippi Border natural division (MMBD) in Jersey County, the family level bioassessment metrics may either be ineffective in this region, or lack the taxonomic resolution to detect agricultural impacts in regional streams. Percent Hydropsychidae had the strongest relationship with agriculture, and may be the best metric for assessing the impacts of agricultural degradation in moderately cultivated regions of the MMBD in west central Illinois.


Status of Spring Cavefish (Forbesichthys agassizii) in Southern Illinois

Authors: Brian A. Metzke, Ginny Adams, and S. Reid Adams (109-06MS1082Final)

Spring Cavefish (Forbesichthys agassizii) inhabit springs, streams and subterranean aquatic habitats from Missouri to Tennessee. In Illinois, most fisheries survey programs do not sample habitats in which Spring Cavefish can be found, and therefore, its distribution and ecology are poorly understood in the state. We reviewed records of the species within Illinois fisheries databases and museum collections and performed targeted surveys for the species in both 2003 and 2013 to better evaluate distribution status and trends. At a coarse spatial resolution, Spring Cavefish distribution appears stable; however, temporal variability in its presence at individual locations suggests the species may be vulnerable to local extirpation. Evaluation of environmental setting relative to Spring Cavefish distribution suggests water quality may influence presence more than physical characteristics. This study highlights the need for targeted surveys to monitor the status of this species.


Behavioral Notes and Nesting of the Black Solitary Eagle (Buteogallus solitarius) in Belize

Authors: Stacia A. Novy and Robb D. Van Putte (109-05MS1007Final)

Behavioral observations of the first recorded Black Solitary Eagle (Buteogallus solitarius) nest with a two-month-old nestling in the Cayo District, Belize were made from 7 – 30 June 2011. The nest was in a fork of the main trunk of a Nicaraguan Pine (Pinus oocarpa) with an eastern slope exposure at ~670 m elevation. The nesting area was ecotonal submontane pine forest overlooking deep valleys of broadleaf forest. Observations suggest the species forages for snakes (Genera: Spilotes, Drymobius and Dryadophis) in broadleaf forest habitat at elevations ≤ 400 m. Black Solitary Eagles relied on static soaring to deliver prey to the nest, following an indirect route over mountain contours. Of the observed flights (N=10), soaring averaged 4.65 min, while flapping flight averaged 0.08 min. Soaring duration (N=6) averaged 6.75 min with carried snake prey, but decreased to 2.00 min without prey (N=3). Our notes offer new insights on the habitat use, flight styles and patterns, and other behaviors of this poorly known Nearctic-Neotropical raptor.


First Record of the Invasive Pest, Halyomorpha halys (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae), in McDonough County, and its Current Distribution in Illinois

Authors: Beth Scheihing, Kelly Ann Estes, and Kenneth W. McCravy (109-04MS1032Final)

A new record of the invasive stink bug Halyomorpha halys (Stål) (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae), the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), is reported for McDonough County, in west-central Illinois. BMSB is known to cause severe damage to commodities in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. Adults seek homes as overwintering sites and are a nuisance. Currently there are limited options to control BMSB and monitoring their presence and range extension can contribute to the development of pest management strategies. is represents one of the western-most records of this insect in Illinois. The current distribution and potential economic and ecological impacts of BMSB are discussed.


Herpetological Diversity of Stemler Cave Nature Preserve, St. Clair County, Illinois

Author: Robert G. Weck (109-03MS1108Final)

Stemler Cave is a biologically diverse ecosystem located in southwestern St. Clair County, IL. The primary entrance to the cave and the surrounding wooded sinkhole is a dedicated Illinois nature preserve. Here I report the results of ten years of observations on the herpetological diversity of Stemler Cave Nature Preserve, which include 26 species of amphibians and reptiles. Seventeen species were recorded from the entrance or interior of the cave. The most diverse group were frogs and toads with 11 documented species. Two salamander species, four turtle species, one lizard species, and eight species of snakes were recorded in Stemler Cave Nature Preserve.


Pre-settlement Vegetation of Greene, Jersey and Macoupin Counties along the Prairie/Forest Border

Authors: Richard B. Brugam, Paul Kilburn, and Laura Luecking (PDF:109-02MS995Final)

In the late 18th and 19th centuries the US Federal Government established the Public Land Survey (PLS) to survey the lands west of the original thirteen states and to sell it to settlers. The surveyors identified and measured diameter and distance of trees from section corners, as well as diameters of some trees on section lines across the landscape. Treeless areas were simply labelled “prairie”. Ecologists have used this record to reconstruct forests everywhere west of the original 13 states before settlement. We used a Geographic Information System (GIS) and the PLS to explore the relationship among fire frequency, topography, and soils in Greene, Jersey and Macoupin Counties in SW Illinois. The PLS data was digitized from microfiche copies of the original notebooks archived in the Lovejoy Library at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Maps of tree distributions showed clear differences based on topography. The floodplains along the Illinois River supported a fire-intolerant forest of Salix sp., Populus deltoides, Acer spp., and Fraxinus spp. located on frequently ooded soils. The floodplain is bordered by a line of bluffs which forms a region of broken topography supporting moderately fire tolerant species –especially Quercus alba, Quercus velutina and Carya spp. These existed on alfisols with little prairie. To the East lay a region of mixed prairie and forest. The prairie was located on flat land and mollic soils where it was intermixed with the forest located on hillier slopes. The forest areas supported a highly fire tolerant forest including Quercus palustris, Quercus stellata and Quercus marilandica on alfisols. These observations are supported by measuring distances from the quarter section corners and diameters of trees. Fire-tolerant oaks were located far from the quarter section corners. Most also had large diameters. An exception was Quercus marilandica which forms fire tolerant “barrens” with small diameter, shrubby trees which are distant from quarter section corners. Non-Metric Multidimensional scaling is an ordination technique which reveals a close relationship among topography, vegetation and soils. Upland oak woodlands are located on alfisols which are indicative of forests. Prairies are located on mollisols which are clearly differentiated on the first NMDS axis. Prairies are located on level uplands where there were no firebreaks. Floodplains are just as level as prairies. They are also located on mollisols adjacent to the river. They are protected from fire by sloughs, swamps and lakes. The results of our study support the conclusion that topography and moisture are important controls on the geographical distribution of vegetation in the study area. These factors likely operated by controlling fire frequency.


Effects of Lowhead Dams on Freshwater Mussels in the Vermilion River Basin, Illinois, with Comments on a Natural Dam Removal

Authors: Jeremy S. Tiemann, Sarah A. Douglass, Alison P. Stodola, and Kevin S. Cummings (PDF:109-01MS509Final)

We sampled freshwater mussels at 12 sites centered around three lowhead dams in the Vermilion River basin (Wabash River drainage) to address their effects on the freshwater mussel fauna and to obtain baseline data prior to their removal. Compared with reference sites, impounded areas and plunge zones had lower mussel abundance and extant species richness. We also examined literature accounts and museum collections to determine species distributions in the basin and compared those data to locations of the three dams and location of the former Homer Park Dam, which was removed over 50 years ago. Two species, Yellow Sandshell (Lampsilis teres) and the state-threatened Black Sandshell (Ligumia recta), are now found only downstream of the Danville Dam. Pimpleback (Amphinaias pustulosa) and Mapleleaf (Quadrula quadrula), which was found only downstream of the Homer Park Dam prior to 1950, has expanded its range upstream since the dam was removed. Data collected during this study contributes insights into the effects of lowhead dams on freshwater mussel abundance and species richness in Midwestern streams, and will be used as a baseline to compare to future post-dam removal collections.