Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

 

Hazel Creek, in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina, April 2002; © M.J. Wetzel (INHS).


- - Research Projects and Funding - -
editing and reformatting of this page in progress

RESEARCH PROJECTS

My principal area of interest encompasses the distribution, ecology, taxonomy, and systematics of aquatic macroinvertebrates, with focus on the oligochaetous Clitellata ('Oligochaeta') and other freshwater Annelida - the true worms. Other interests include the preservation of habitat utilized by federal- and state-listed endangered, threatened, and/or rare species of aquatic organisms; the distribution of freshwater mussels, Nematomorpha, Turbellaria, other lesser known groups of non-insectan macroinvertebrates, and aquatic insects. In addition to my work on the annelid fauna of Illinois, I am compiling distributional and ecological data for Annelida occurring in several states and provinces. 
- - Short summaries for several of my collaborative projects are presented below:

Aquatic Oligochaetes of Yosemite National Park.
In 2016, we began a preliminary inventory of the freshwater oligochaetes occurring in aquatic and semi-aquatic habitats in Yosemite National Park (YOSE). This project is self-funded, and in collaboration with  Peggy Morgan (Florida).  Freshwater annelids were collected from 11 sites in May 2016; specimens sorted from those samples are now being permanently mounted on slides prior to identification and completion of report to the National Park  Service and YOSE.

Nomenclatura Oligochaetologica - Editio Secunda.
In late 2000, Dr. John Reynolds (Oligochaetology Laboratory, Kitchener, Ontario) invited me to co-author Nomenclatura Oligochaetologica - Supplementum Quartum: a catalogue of names, descriptions and type specimens of the Oligochaeta. This fourth supplement (N.O.S.Q.) was to update the original volume (N.O., 1976) (Addenda Editioni Primae) and correct (Corrigenda Editioni Primae) generic, subgeneric, specific and infra-specific names of oligochaetes published in the first three supplements -- N.O. Supplementum Primum (N.O.S.P.), N.O. Supplementum Secundum (N.O.S.S.), and N.O. Supplementum Tertium (N.O.S.T.), and include new taxa described through mid-2010. However, we decided that a fourth supplement that would be static as soon as it was printed, was not warranted given the far superior option of presenting information via the world wide web.    Thus, 

In January 2014, J.W. Reynolds and M.J. Wetzel launched a new website presenting Nomenclatura Oligochaetologica – Editio Secunda [NO2] (Reynolds & Wetzel 2017).  The web-based second edition of Nomenclatura Oligochaetologica integrates the accounts for all taxa included in the first edition – Reynolds & Cook (1976) and its three supplements (Reynolds & Cook, 1981, 1989, and 1993).  Additionally, NO2 updates and corrects accounts for the generic, subgeneric, specific, and infra-specific names of oligochaetes as presented in the first edition; adds accounts for all oligochaete taxa described as new to science since 1993; and expands the Prolegomenon, Dedicatio, Index Auctorum, Index Auctoritatum, Index Museorum, Prolegomenon, Glossarium, and References sections of the original series.

Aquatic oligochaetes occurring in the Huron Mountain region, upper peninsula, Michigan.  
In 2010, I received a small grant from the Huron Mountain Wildlife Foundation to support a preliminary inventory of freshwater oligochaetes occurring in aquatic and semi-aquatic habitats in the Huron Mountain region located northwest of Marquette, Michigan. Our limited surveys at 21 sites in July 2010 yielded 25 species representing four orders, four families, and 22 genera; additional taxa (10-15) were represented by immature specimens only. In April 2011, additional funding was received to support a second year of research (July 2011, collections from 18 additional sites (and July 2012 (14 additional sites).

Terrestrial oligochaetes occurring in the Huron Mountain region, upper peninsula, Michigan.
In 2013 and again in 2014, I received small grants from the Huron Mountain Wildlife Foundation to support a preliminary inventory of terrestrial oligochaetes (earthworms, megadriles) occurring in the Huron Mountain region located northwest of Marquette, Michigan.  These surveys were conducted in collaboration with Dr. John W. Reynolds (Oligochaetology Laboratory, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada).

Terrestrial oligochaetes occurring at Nachusa Grasslands in Illinois.
In 2015, John Reynolds and I received a small grant from the Friends of Nachusa Grasslands (in partnership with The Nature Conservancy) to support a preliminary inventory of terrestrial oligochaetes (earthworms, megadriles) within the 3,800 acre nature preserve (remnant prairie, woodlands, and wetlands).  Our results document the presence of eight species representing four genera, all in the family Lumbricidae; one species collected during this study, Bimastos welchi (Smith, 1917), represented a new record for the state (and is the only native species thus far reported from this preserve).  

Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).
In 2002, I was asked by ITIS personnel to serve as a steward for the aquatic oligochaetes [updated, 2015]. In late 2010, I was awarded a small grant from ITIS to provide a current, annotated list of freshwater oligochaetes occurring in North America. This includes a hierarchy, accepted names with authority(ies), recent synonomies, one or more (commonly 3-4) citations for publications documenting each valid taxon (order, family, subfamily, genus, species, subspecies), and supportive information to resolve nomenclatural issues that have been perpetuated in the historical and recent literature.  Data sets were completed and presented to ITIS project managers in 2013. 

Aquatic Oligochaetes of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
In September 1999, we began a preliminary inventory of the freshwater oligochaetes occurring in or adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). This project is being underwritten by small grants received in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 from Discover Life in America, Inc. (DLIA), a not-for-profit organization administering the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) program in the Park. This project is being conducted with the collaboration of Peggy Morgan (FL DEP at that time) and many other researchers associated with the ATBI.

An extensive website summarizing our surveys for aquatic oligochaetes in the Park is available HERE. This site presents an introduction to the ATBI program and our research; by using the site navigation bar at the bottom of each page you can view a map of the Park noting sites from which specimens have been collected, specific locality information for those sites, field and laboratory methodologies used in the collection, processing, and identification of taxa, annotated checklist of aquatic oligochaetes and other annelid species known or thought likely to occur in the Park, project hightlights, goals, and sources of funding, in-kind contributions, and leveraged research support. A preliminary checklist of the freshwater Annelida (including the Aeolosomatida, Branchiobdellida, Hirudinida, and oligochaetous Clitellata) known to occur in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and adjacent states, and a summary of work conducted to date, are posted at this site.

In late November 2007, an updated summary of our annelid research and discoveries was published (Wetzel and Morgan 2007) in a special issue of the journal Southeastern Naturalist [vol. 6 (special issue 1): 153-158] -- focusing on the on diverse research and educational programs affiliated with the ATBI in the Park; a full citation for this paper (and special issue) is included on the webpage accessible via the 'Publications' link in the navigator bar at the bottom of this page). During 2008, identifications of over 3,000 specimens (from collections made in 2003 and 2004) increased the number of known species of freshwater oligochaetes in the Park from 19 (as published in 2007) to 30!

Aquatic Oligochaetes occurring in habitats within the Blue Ridge Parkway.
In association with surveys for aquatic oligochaetes in Great Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we conducted limited surveys of seeps and springruns along the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2005 and again in 2017.  

Nomenclatura Oligochaetologica (N.O.)
In late 2000, Dr. John Reynolds (Oligochaetology Laboratory, Kitchener, Ontario) invited me to co-author Nomenclatura Oligochaetologica - Supplementum Quartum: a catalogue of names, descriptions and type specimens of the Oligochaeta. This fourth supplement (N.O.S.Q.) will update (Addenda Editioni Primae) and correct (Corrigenda Editioni Primae) generic, subgeneric, specific and infra-specific names of oligochaetes published in the first three supplements -- N.O. Supplementum Primum (N.O.S.P.), N.O. Supplementum Secundum (N.O.S.S.), and N.O. Supplementum Tertium (N.O.S.T.), and include new taxa described through mid-2010.

Genera are assigned to 36 families recognized in the third supplement (N.O.S.T.) plus two new families added in this fourth supplement; the detailed Latin definitions can also be found in N.O.S.T. A summary of taxa entries for the first four volumes is presented as follows: [families / genera / subgenera / species]: N.O.: 24 / 573 / 0 / 5,753; N.O.S.P.: 4 / 47 / 0 / 401; N.O.S.S.: 7 / 73 / 34 / 694; N.O.S.T.: 1 / 46 / 6 / 406. As of 25 March 2010, two new families, 85 new genera, 27 new subgenera, and 1,650 new species of oligochaetes are included in N.O.S.Q. Several new genera and approximately 100 new species have yet to be entered before we finalize this volume, with publication anticipated in late 2010.

The Terrestrial Oligochaetes (Annelida, Clitellata) of North America.
In March 2004, Dr. John Reynolds and I published a guide to the terrestrial oligochaetes occurring in North America north of Mexico [in the journal Megadrilogia, vol. 9(11): 71-98]. That paper summarizes the extensive distributional information for this group, much of which has been published over the past 50+ years on a state, provincial, and/or regional basis in North America. In addition to a global perspective on megadrile earthworms and a summary of published historical and recent distributional information, we included summaries on the general biology of earthworms, recommended field and laboratory techniques, suggested keys for use in identification, an annotated checklist to species, and an extensive literature section. We currently recognize 10 families, 37 genera, and 161 species of megadrile earthworms in North America; of these, 116 are considered native and 45 considered to have been introduced.

In December 2008, we published an update of this 2004 publication, with new records for the U.S. and Canada, and expanded to include distributional records for Mexico, Hawaii, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico. This was published in the journal Megadrilogia, vol. 12(12): 157-208. 

A third supplement was published in 2012, and a fourth supplement will be published in late 2019.

Common and Scientific Names of the Annelida in North America.
I am collaborating (as co-editor) with Dr. Kathryn A. Coates (Bermuda Biological Station for Research, Inc.) on the common and scientific names of all aquatic and terrestrial aphanoneuran and clitellate annelids occurring in North America, including distributions by state and province; contributing authors to this volume include Dr. Stuart R. Gelder (Univ. Maine - Presque Isle) (Branchiobdellidae), Ms. Jacque Madill (Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa), Bill Moser (USNM-Smithsonian Institution) and Don Klemm (USEPA, Cincinnati) (Hirudinida), and Dr. John W. Reynolds (Oligochaetology Laboratory, Kitchener, Ontario) (terrestrial oligochaete worms). This volume will be published as the fourth in a series funded and published through the American Fisheries Society Committee on Common and Scientific Names of Aquatic Invertebrates (chaired by Dr. Donna D. Turgeon).

Aquatic oligochaetes of the Colorado River, Grand Canyon National Park.
In November/December 1991, I (and with the assistance of many other volunteers during river trips) began an inventory of the freshwater oligochaetes and other annelids occurring in a variety of habitats within the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. Field work was conducted while participating in a 13-day research expedition to study sediment transport and energy flow in the river downstream of the Glen Canyon Dam. During this 226-mi rafting trip, We focused on collections for freshwater annelids occurring in both the Colorado River proper and several of the tributaries that flow into it within the Park. Subsequent collecting trips were made in August/September 1993 (12 days), June 2001 (11 days), and July 2006 (9 days). To date, collections for freshwater annelids and other invertebrates have been taken from 78 sites within the Park, including the Colorado River proper, 24 direct tributaries, backwater marshes, and several spring, seep, drip pot, and hanging garden sites. This project is in collaboration with Drs. Dean Blinn (nowe retired) and Joe Shannon. A more extensive project summary, including specific collecting locality information, is available HERE.

Springs of Illinois.
As a co-principal investigator with Dr. Donald W. Webb, former Insect Systematist with the INHS, we were involved in a long term study (1991–1998) focusing on the biodiversity, ground- and surface water quality, and hydrogeology of Illinois springs. Other scientists who assisted with this project  included Dr. L. Rick Phillippe (INHS), Dr. Steven J. Taylor (INHS), and Phillip C. Reed (ret.), and Tim C. Young (Illinois State Geological Survey, Champaign).

I have also been collaborating with scientists in other states (AZ, FL, NC, TN, TX) on the study of aquatic oligochaetes and other fauna associated with springs and groundwater habitats.

Faunal Studies in Caves. 
In the past, I collaborated with Drs. Steven J. Taylor and Donald W. Webb on the distribution of aquatic annelids associated with midwestern cave and groundwater habitats.


FUNDING

The primary source of funds that supported my research at the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) prior to retirement were provided to me by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), as an Aquatic Zoologist with the INHS / IDOT Further Studies Program. Funds supporting my research on the biodiversity and hydrogeology of Illinois springs have been provided by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, Illinois Groundwater Consortium, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Trust Fund Commission. Funds supporting my research on the distribution of the freshwater Annelida of the Colorado River and its tributaries in Grand Canyon National Park were provided in part by the Bureau of Land Management through the Glen Canyon Environmental Studies group, the National Park Service, and Northern Arizona University. Funds supporting my research on the distribution of freshwater Annelida in southern Sweden was provided in part by the World Wildlife Fund. Funds supporting research in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park have been provided in part by Discover Life in America, Inc. (DLIA) for the years 1999-2006. Funding to conduct limited surveys for aquatic, terrestrial, and limicolous oligochaetes in the Upper Peninsula Michigan (2010–2015) was awarded by the Huron Mountain Wildlife Foundation.  Friends of Nachusa Grasslands provided funds in 2015 to support a limited survey for earthworms in habitats within the boundaries of the Nachusa Grasslands research area in Lee and Ogle counties, Illinois.

Workshops. A non-construction grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, through the North American Benthological Society (NABS) Technical Issues Committee, was instrumental in underwriting an all-day taxonomic workshop at the 48th annual NABS meeting in Keystone Resort, Colorado, on 28 May 2000. This workshop was co-presented by Mark J. Wetzel, R. Deedee Kathman (formerly with Aquatic Resources Center, College Grove, TN), Steven V. Fend (formerly with the U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA), and Kathryn A. Coates (formerly with the Bermuda Biological Station for Research, Inc.). These funds also supported the preparation and publication of a workshop workbook (Wetzel et al. 2000).

During 2005, we expanded this workbook to include the Enchytraeidae, Parvidrilidae, megadriles that are commonly collected in aquatic habitats, and branchiobdellidans; significant updates were also incorporated into all chapters. This updated workbook was prepared initially for use during two 3-day workshops presented during 2006: 1) in February, to aquatic biologists working with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (presented by K.A. Coates, S.V. Fend, Stuart R. Gelder (University of Maine - Presque Isle, now retired), and Wetzel, at the FDEP laboratory facility in Tallahassee), and 2) in May, to members of the Florida Association of Benthologists [now the Florida Association of Aquatic Biologists] (presented by Wetzel, at the University of Florida Department of Entomology and Nematology, Gainesville). This workbook was updated in late 2008 (and again during 2009) for use during 3-day oligochaete taxonomy workshops presented by Wetzel in 2009: 1) University of Missouri, Columbia (6-8 January), 2) EcoAnalysts, Inc., Moscow, Idaho (3-5 March), and 3) Watershed Assessment Associates, Schenectady, NY (17-19 November).  That workbook is now out of print.  It is currently being updated to integrate keys and other information included in the Kathman and Brinkhurst (1998, 1999) guide to aquatic oligochaetes in North America; we hope to complete the new guide and workbook in 2021.

 


A site navigation bar (being restructured, and soon to be added to the bottom of this page) will direct you to resume-related information, several ongoing research projects, the INHS Center for Annelida Resources, and the INHS Annelida Collection.


Questions, comments, suggestions, or ideas?
Please forward them to me via *E-Mail: mjwetzel{AT}illinois.edu 


The '@' symbol in my e-mail address has been replaced with '{AT}' to deter the 'mining' of these webpages by spammers who use programs to collect valid e-mail addresses. You must replace the '{AT}' with the '@' symbol in order for your email message to be sent and received. 


page update: 15 June 2019 


 

 



Illinois Natural History Survey

1816 South Oak Street, MC 652
Champaign, IL 61820
217-333-6880
cms@inhs.illinois.edu

Terms of use. Email the Web Administrator with questions or comments.

© 2019 University of Illinois Board of Trustees. All rights reserved.
For permissions information, contact the Illinois Natural History Survey.

Staff Intranet
Login