Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Ed J Heske
Title: Mammalian Ecologist
Mailing address:
Office address:
Address mailcode: 652
Office room:
Phone: 217-244-2173
Fax: 217-244-0802

Research on the ecology and conservation of mammals

Courses Taught

Mammalogy IB462

Vertebrate Natural History IB364

Community ecology, population biology, natural history, and conservation of mammals.

Selected Research Projects

White-nose syndrome in Illinois bats
Steve Taylor, Andy Miller, Tony Yanarell, Nohra Mateus-Pinilla, Joe Merritt, and Ed Heske

We are conducting studies to monitor the occurrence and impact of white-nose syndrome in bat hibernacula in Illinois. We also are examining fungal and microbial assemblages on bats and in hibernacula before and after invasion by the disease agent (the chrysophilic fungus Geomyces destructans) to evaluate community responses, including possible resistance, to the invading fungus.

Monitoring effects of train traffic on wildlife and plants
Ed Heske, Chris Whelan, Dave Enstrom, Jeff Levengood, Yong Cao, Allen Plocher, Brenda Molano-Flores, and John Tucker

We are monitoring how songbirds, songbird nest success, water quality, aquatic communities, plant communities, reptiles and amphibians, and insects are affected by railroad traffic in selected nature preserves in the west Chicago area. This is a 5-year study that will document differences between biotic communities near railroad tracks and away from them, and monitor changes over time as train traffic increases.

Songbird communities and nesting success in riparian forests in an agricultural region
Suzanne Beyeler and Ed Heske

Field studies (Beyeler dissertation research) include evaluating the effects of exotic invasive shrubs on songbird nest success, comparing how landscape and local habitat factors affect nest success, and examining how stream size (order) affects composition of bird communities in 12 riparian forests in central Illinois.

Ecology of Franklin's Ground Squirrel (Poliocitellus franklinii) in Illinois
Jenny Duggan, Ed Heske, and Bob Schooley

Surveys (Duggan dissertation research) for FGS are being conducted at sites in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, and Wisconsin to evalaute habitat use, using an occupancy modeling approach. In collaboration with Working Dogs for Conservation, we are evaluating the use of trained search dog - handler teams to search for this uncommon, elusive species, and comparing effectiveness of using search dogs to traditional live-trapping surveys. We also are conducting field experiments with radio-collared ground squirrels to assess movement patterns and barriers to dispersal.

Survival, movements, and ecology of muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) in riparian habitat in an area domnated by agriculture
Adam Ahlers, Bob Schooley, and Ed Heske

Riparian systems in agricultural areas are extensively modified, typically being channelized, and receiving runoff from extensive drainage tile systems in crop fields and runoff from suburban and urban areas. As a consequence, water levels can be quite flashy. We are monitoring the survival, movements, home ranges, and behavior of muskrats (Ahlers thesis research) in these highly modified ecosystems, particularly in relation to landscape context and adjacent habitat.

Ecology of mink (Neovison vison) in agricultural, riparian systems
Adam Ahlers, Pat Wolf, Bob Schooley, and Ed Heske

We are beginning studies of the ecology of mink in the same riparian systems used for the muskrat research. Mink were the main predators of muskrats in that study. The ecology of mink in these habitats has not been studied much, so our initial work will include basic ecology and natural history such as habitat use, occupancy, and home range size and dynamics.

Use of non-invasive genetic techniques to study ocelots on Barro Colorado Island, Panama

Torrey Rodgers and Ed Heske

DNA obtained from ocelot scats is being used to evaluate several aspects of ocelot ecology and gene flow in this island population, as well as assess the accuracy of population estimates from "mark-recapture" of individuals identified via their scats in comparison to estimates from an ongoing camera-trap study.

Message to students: Please see my letter to prospective students and my CV to be sure we have compatible interests, then send me an email that describes your background, interests, and career goals. Attach a current CV or resume. Generic inquiries will not get a response.
2010 President-elect, American Society of Mammalogists (President-elect 2010-11, President 2012-13)

2009 Professional Award of Merit, Illinois Chapter of The Wildlife Society

Editor, Journal of Mammalogy 2007-2009

UIUC List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students: 1992, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010
Professional affiliations:
Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Adjunct Asst. Professor, Dept. of Animal Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Selected publications:
Horn, J. A., N. Mateus-Pinilla, R. E. Warner, and E. J. Heske. 2011. Home range, habitat use, and activity of free-roaming domestic cats. Journal of Wildlife Management

Wydeven, A. P., T. R. Van Deelen, and E. J. Heske, eds. 2009. Recovery of Gray Wolves in the Great Lakes Region of the United States: An Endangered Species Success Story. Springer, New York.

Carfagno, G. L. F., E. J. Heske, and P. J. Weatherhead. 2006. Does mammalian prey abundance explain forest-edge use by snakes? EcoScience 13:293-297.

Haas, J. P., and E. J. Heske. 2005. Experimental study of the effects of mammalian acorn predators on red oak acorn survival and germination. Journal of Mammalogy 86:1015-1021.

Rowe, K. C., E. J. Heske, P. W. Brown, and K. N. Paige. 2004. Surviving the ice: northern refugia and postglacial colonization. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 101:10355-10359.

INHS Publink:
Program affiliates:
Professional society involvement and activities:
American Society of Mammalogists (Life member)
Ecological Society of America
Society for Conservation Biology
The Wildlife Society
Southwestern Association of Naturalists
Education: PhD, Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, 1985

BS, Zoology, Oregon State University, 1979

BA, English, Amherst College, 1975
Lab name: Lab research: Lab publications: Lab current projects:

Illinois Natural History Survey

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