Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

CENTER FOR WILDLIFE ECOLOGY

Patrick W. Brown, Director

The mission of the Center for Wildlife Ecology is to conduct basic and applied research on wildlife, their habitats, and the wetlands of Illinois. The Center is comprised of research biologists, ecologists, and supporting personnel. Funding is provided by the Natural History Survey and through grants and contracts obtained by the scientists. The Center consists of two groups. The Wildlife Group focuses on the ecology, populations, and management of terrestrial and wetland wildlife and their habitats. The Wetlands Group conducts biological surveys and determinations of wetlands, participates in restoration of wetlands, studies wetland management policy, and researches the ecology of natural communities. Scientists in the Center are prominent members of the wildlife research community and have a long heritage of leadership and credibility in research.


Public Service

Center staff respond to a variety of requests for information regarding wildlife and wetlands. Although the Center's primary mission is to conduct research, these requests are directed to Center staff because of their expertise and because there are no wildlife extension specialists in Illinois as there are in most states. Requests for information usually come from state and federal agencies, private wildlife groups, private foundations, individual sportsmen, and concerned citizens.

Center scientists cooperate with the University of Illinois and other universities in the state to provide guidance and advice in the undergraduate and graduate education of Illinois students. Indeed, students play an important role in the research mission of the Center. Most members of the Center have affiliate appointments at various universities. Staff members serve as judges for science fairs and for awards given by the Future Farmers of America. page39.gif

Public interest in the aerial censuses of waterfowl throughout Illinois and the Midwest remains high. At the Stephen A. Forbes Biological Station, staff distributed information on the aerial censuses of waterfowl via mailings to various agencies throughout Illinois as well as agencies in Missouri and Iowa. Newspaper reporters from St. Louis, Peoria, Alton, and Quincy devoted weekly columns to the waterfowl census data during the hunting season. The Forbes Station staff hosted 214 visitors making 54 visits to the station to discuss research, obtain information, or assist with station programs. The visitors covered a broad spectrum of interests and included representatives of federal and state conservation agencies, private business, the news media, universities, and private citizens.

Center scientists made scientific presentations, gave public lectures, and chaired conferences and workshops approximately 40 times during fiscal year 1995. Presentations were made at meetings of the American Ornithologists' Union, American Society of Mammalogists, Central Illinois Prairie Conference, North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, Illinois Chapter of The Wildlife Society, International Conference on Analyses of Mark-Recapture Data, Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Midwestern Animal Behavior Society, Mississippi Flyway Council Technical Section, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the First North American Savanna and Barrens Conference. Seminars were presented at many universities including Bradley, California at Santa Barbara, Illinois, Indiana, Millikin, Southern Illinois, Southwestern, and Western Illinois.

Scientists and staff presented a wide variety of topics in scientific presentations and public lectures including general avian biology, conservation of neotropical passerines, myths involving management of wildlife and fisheries habitats, agro-ecology, general waterfowl biology, the Illinois River, research programs at the Forbes Biological Station, habitat fragmentation effects on Midwestern wildlife, waterfowl and wetland management, analysis of mark-recapture data in birds, comparative ecology of desert-dwelling small mammals, wetland delineation, management of cool-season grasses and legumes for prairie chickens, management of prairie chickens in Illinois, preservation and restoration of the Illinois River, ecology of small mammal populations, and the social behavior of birds.

The staff served as referees for numerous journal manuscripts. Scientists and staff also reviewed a wide variety of book chapters written by fellow scientists and proposals from agencies and private groups, such as the National Science Foundation, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Tennessee Council of Science and Engineering, U.S. Forest Service, National Geographic Society, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Illinois Department of Conservation, Argonne National Laboratory, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture (Iowa State University), University of Illinois Research Board, Center for Field Research, International Council for Bird Preservation, and Wildlife Conservation International.

 


Special Recognition

One particularly important publication, "Regional Forest Fragmentation and the Nesting Success of Migratory Birds," by Dr. Scott Robinson and four co-authors, appeared in Science. The study involved the coordinated effort of five teams of researchers who located and monitored the fates of more than 5,000 nests in nine study areas from 1989 to 1993. Dr. Robinson has studied the effects of forest fragmentation on migratory birds for many years and has long been concerned about the likely effects of fragmented forests. Press releases of this article appeared in the New York TimesChicago Tribune, and many other large newspapers, and Dr. Robinson appeared on several national television and radio programs, such as "The Nature of Things." Dr. Robinson was the invited speaker on this issue at the University of California at Santa Barbara, the Kellogg Field Station at Michigan State University, and at Southwestern University. His other scientific works appeared in Bird Conservation InternationalBiotropicaJournal of Animal EcologyQuarterly Review of Biology, and The Wilson Bulletin page40.gif

Dr. Robinson presented papers at the annual meetings of the American Ornithologists' Union, North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, Illinois Chapter of The Wildlife Society, Illinois Renewable Natural Resources Conference, Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, and the Midwestern Animal Behavior Society (symposium organizer). He continues to chair the resolutions committee for the American Ornithologists' Union, serves on the editorial board ofConservation Biology, and is a member of the grants committee for the Bird Conservation Alliance.

Dr. Stephen Havera served as a member-at-large of the board of directors of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) and as a member of the AIBS Biodiversity and Distinguished Service Awards committees. He was president of the Organization of Biological Field Stations (OBFS), which represents over 160 biological stations throughout North and Central America, and served as that organization's representative to the AIBS Executive Council. Dr. Havera was also a member-at-large of the executive council of OBFS and chairman of the OBFS Research Committee. He was the Department of Energy and Natural Resources representative to the State Interagency Wetland Committee, and he served on the Lieutenant Governor's Illinois River Ecology and Economics Advisory Committee, the Spoon River Watershed Planning Team, the Pool 25 Ecosystem Management Steering Committee, and the Big Rivers Ascertainment Team. Dr. Havera was a member of the planning committee for the Fifth Governor's Conference on the Management of the Illinois River System and served on the steering committee of a National Science Foundation proposal and workshop for a field station facilities program for OBFS and the National Association of Marine Laboratories. He also served as chairman of the Environmental Issues Committee of the Mississippi Flyway Technical Section. Dr. Havera was a consultant on waterfowl and wetland issues for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Illinois Department of Conservation, and U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, and participated in the Environmental Monitoring Program/Long Term Resource Monitoring research and flood response workshops. He routinely provides wetland management advice for state agencies and the public.

Dr. Jeffrey Brawn was an invited speaker at the European Union for Ringing International Conference held at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in September. He also coorganized and cochaired with Dr. Edward Heske a session at the 1994 Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference entitled "Habitat Fragmentation Effects on Midwest Wildlife." Dr. Brawn also was named the chairperson of the research committee for the Midwestern working group Partners in Flight, and served on the steering committee for the North American Savanna and Barrens Conference at Illinois State University.

Dr. Edward Heske co-edited a special symposium volume of the Australian Journal of Zoology on "Comparative Ecology of Desert-dwelling Small Mammals," which resulted from an earlier symposium of the same name. He presented papers at annual meetings of the American Society of Mammalogists, Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Illinois Renewable Natural Resources Conference, and the First North American Savannas and Barrens Conference, and gave an invited seminar at Indiana State University.

Mr. Scott Simon helped to provide a workshop on wetland ecology for The Nature Conservancy and two workshops on wetland delineation for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Soil Conservation Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Illinois Department of Conservation. Mr. Simon was also given the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association and Illinois Park Districts Community Service Award for Busey Woods Restoration. He was a steering committee member for a conference on "Management of Forested Wetland Ecosystems in the Central Hardwoods Region" held in Evansville, Indiana, and was chair for the session on physical and biological processes.

page43.gif Dr. Ronald Westemeier was an invited speaker at the Fourth Central Illinois Prairie Conference. Mr. Brian Wilm helped conduct a wetlands workshop for elementary school teachers with Dr. Michael Jeffords as part of the Sun Foundation Science Literacy Project, and was an invited speaker at Southern Illinois University.

Drs. Glen C. Sanderson and Frank C. Bellrose, emeritus members of the Center, continue to provide expert advice to the Survey, the Center, and the citizens of the state. Dr. Sanderson continued studies concerning the use of nontoxic shot for waterfowl, including advising government agencies in North America, South America, and Europe. Dr. Bellrose remains widely recognized as an authority on waterfowl ecology and management. During the past year his advice was sought by numerous private, state, and federal agencies, as well as academic institutions.

 


Research Reports


The following research summaries document the great breadth of topics addressed by Center scientists. They also describe how the activities of the Center benefit the natural resources and citizens of Illinois.

 

Computer systems for wildlife data
J. Branham, J. Brawn, J. Buhnerkempe
The Survey and the Division of Wildlife Resources of the Illinois Department of Conservation have combined resources to address the informational needs between the Survey and the Division. Included in this project are the study of current divisional information and processes, analysis and standardization, and the design of a division-wide database and associated programs. The centralized design and documentation will result in a uniform database that will increase the quantity and quality of data shared throughout the Department and within the Survey.

Avian community/population dynamics
J. Brawn
Fragmentation of forests in Illinois is extensive and migratory songbirds may be adversely affected. A long-term (1927-1976) study of avian populations in Trelease Woods near Urbana was revived in 1992 and is continuing. New analyses indicate that, overall, abundances of songbirds in Trelease Woods have not changed appreciably since the 1920s. Yet, the viability of resident populations is low owing to consistently low reproductive success. Moreover, many species of forest-interior birds were already extirpated from Trelease Woods when monitoring efforts began. Immigration of individuals born in other areas of Illinois or the Midwest probably underlies the persistence of many species in woodlots such as Trelease Woods.

Prescribed burning and bird communities
J. Brawn
Oak-hickory forests were historically self-sustaining, but current trends indicate that stands throughout the Midwest are not regenerating. Instead, species, such as sugar maples, are becoming dominant. The absence of periodic disturbance, especially fire, is thought to underlie this change. This study will assess the effects of prescribed fire and removal of maples on forest birds in Illinois. In 1994, community structure, population dynamics, and reproductive success of forest birds were monitored within several management sites and control areas in the "Peoria Wilds" forest system. The study is being expanded in 1995 to include several established savannas, such as the Sand Prairie Scrub-Oak Nature Preserve in Mason County.

Reproductive ecology of birds
L. Lee, J. Brawn
The breeding success and reproductive behavior of birds is affected in large part by habitat structure. In the spring of 1992, nest boxes were installed at several sites throughout east-central Illinois. These areas have varied land-use histories and include contrasting habitats, such as forest edges and old fields. The reproductive ecology of birds using these boxes has been monitored since that time and populations of color-marked adults have been established. Experiments will be conducted to assess the effects of feeding conditions and the threat of predation on parental care.

Status/management of Illinois waterfowl
S. Havera, K. Roat, M. Georgi, C. Hine, A. Yetter
This project culminated in a book manuscript of approximately 1,500 pages. A variety of topics relating to waterfowl were investigated with major emphasis placed on wetland habitat, food habits analyses, population analyses, banding results, harvest information, historical records and regulations, private duck clubs, Canada geese, nesting information, and waterfowl management. This thorough compendium of information on the rich waterfowl tradition in Illinois will be a welcome addition to the literature for those citizens with a special interest in waterfowl as well as biologists and natural resource managers throughout the Mississippi Flyway.

Aerial censuses of waterfowl populations
M. Georgi, S. Havera
In 1994-1995, aerial inventories of waterfowl numbers, species composition, and distribution were conducted throughout Illinois during fall, winter, and spring migrations. Mallards are the most common migrant species of waterfowl in Illinois. In November 1994, the peak number of mallards inventoried in the Illinois River valley was the highest recorded since 1979. However, in the Mississippi River valley, the peak number of mallards was the fifth lowest value recorded since 1948. The Great Flood of 1993 severely reduced the number of migrant ducks typically present in these floodplains during fall by eliminating their food resources, but in the Illinois valley the numbers of mallards recovered in 1994.

Eastern bluebird population study
S. Havera
The fifteenth consecutive year of monitoring the bluebird population on a 24-hectare study area in Fulton County was completed. Eastern bluebird population numbers have been declining regionally in recent years principally because of decreasing nesting habitat. No scientific studies of nesting populations of bluebirds have been conducted in west-central Illinois since 1935. This study evaluates the reproductive success, territoriality, survival, and homing of eastern bluebirds. In 1994, 58 bluebird houses were monitored. The bluebird nesting season began on 12 April and lasted until 17 August. Twenty-three nests (one egg laid) occurred and 20 (87%) successfully fledged young.

Compliance with nontoxic shot regulations
S. Havera, C. Hine, M. Georgi
The required nationwide use of nontoxic (steel) shot for sport waterfowl hunting has the potential for saving 1.6 to 2.4 million ducks and geese annually from lead poisoning. A three-year study investigating hunter compliance with nontoxic shot regulations in Illinois was begun during the fall of 1989. Hunter compliance with nontoxic shot regulations averaged 99% for ducks as compared to 91% in 1989 and 98% in 1990. The degree of hunter compliance with nontoxic shot regulations in Illinois increased with the 1991 nationwide ban of lead shot for sport hunting of waterfowl in the United States. A manuscript summarizing this study was published in 1994.

Wood duck nesting behavior at Nauvoo 
C. Hine, A. Yetter, S. Havera 
In 1984, 80 wood duck boxes were erected along the Mississippi River near Nauvoo. The high density of nest boxes contrasts with the density of natural nesting cavities -- about 1 per acre. The number of females in the boxes increased from 46 in 1984 to 74 in 1986. Intraspecific strife became evident in wood duck females in 1985. From 1984 through 1994, conflicts among female wood ducks resulted in 65 females with head injuries and 52 fatalities resulting from head wounds. There is a strong relationship between the number of nesting wood duck pairs at the study area in a particular year and the number of injured and dead females.

Wood duck natural tree cavity study
A. Yetter, C. Hine, S. Havera
The lack of adequate census methods to estimate populations has increased the need for information on the abundance and production of breeding wood ducks in Illinois. A three-year study to determine the abundance of natural cavities, the use of natural cavities by nesting wood ducks, and production of ducklings from these cavities was undertaken in 1992 at Sanganois Fish and Wildlife Area near Chandlerville, Illinois, in the Illinois River valley. Information obtained from the study will be an important step in estimating the production of wood ducks in Illinois.

Illinois wetlands relation to waterfowl use
S. Havera, L. Suloway, M. Georgi, A. Yetter
Wetlands in Illinois and elsewhere have tremendous biological and economic values and are an important and productive ecosystem. The amount and status of the various wetlands in Illinois along with descriptive and trend data for flora and fauna were examined for a book chapter entitled "Conservation in Highly Fragmented Landscapes." In addition, the amount, types, and locations of waterfowl habitats in Illinois were determined, and the use of various wetland types by waterfowl during spring and fall migration was investigated.

Amount of land managed for waterfowl
S. Havera, A. Yetter, C. Hine, M. Georgi
This study estimated the amount of waterfowl habitat managed with water control capabilities for the purpose of providing food during spring and fall migrations in the Illinois River floodplain and the Mississippi River floodplain in Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. In the Illinois valley, approximately 23% (25,000 acres) of public and private waterfowl land had some type of water-level management capability. In the Mississippi River floodplain, there were approximately 32,400 acres of public land managed with water control for waterfowl and virtually no private land similarly managed and existing outside of Corps of Engineers' or similar levees.

Body weight analyses
S. Havera, C. Hine
Preparation of a manuscript on the body weights of ducks in Illinois was initiated. Body weights were collected and condition indices were determined from ducks throughout the Illinois River valley during fall, 1989-1991. Also, body weights and condition indices were obtained from diving ducks livetrapped on Pool 19 of the Mississippi River during spring, 1977-1986. The primary objectives of the study are (1) to compare recent fall body weights of selected species of ducks to those collected in the Illinois River valley during fall, 1938-1940, and (2) to compare body weights and condition indices of diving ducks with the chronology of spring migration on Pool 19.

Forbes Biological Station Centennial
S. Havera, K. Roat
One hundred years of continuous research has been conducted from the Stephen A. Forbes Biological Station near Havana. Established by Forbes on 1 April 1894, the station was the first inland aquatic biological station in America equipped for continuous investigations and the first in the world to undertake the serious study of the biology of a river system. The August 1994 meeting of the Board of Energy and Natural Resources was held at the station as part of the anniversary celebration. A presentation and manuscript were prepared for the 1995 Governor's Conference on the Management of the Illinois River System that was held October 10-11 in Peoria.

History of Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge
S. Havera, K. Roat
Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge was established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in 1993 in Fulton County. Included in the boundaries of the refuge is farmland created after Thompson and Flag lakes were drained in the early 1920s. These lakes were productive and renowned habitat for fish and waterfowl. The USFWS is seeking funds for expansion of the refuge and possible restoration of the two former lakes. If restoration of the lakes is accomplished, many opportunities for comparative research would be available to INHS scientists. An account of the biology of the Thompson Lake area and its history is being prepared for publication.

Mammals in forest "islands"
E. Heske
When formerly continuous habitats become fragmented, the resulting "islands" are subjected to changes in both physical and biogeographic regimes that can have important effects on their biota. For example, the surrounding anthropogenic matrix may impede dispersal movements among fragments, isolating local populations to a degree that their stability or persistence is affected. A survey of the mammal fauna of a series of 10 forest remnants in east-central Illinois ranging in size from 2 to 600 ha is being used to evaluate the effects of forest fragmentation and insularization on mammalian species diversity.

Desert small mammal ecology
E. Heske
Desertification of large areas is predicted by many models of global climate change. With desert ecologists from Russia, Israel, Chile, Australia, and the U.S., Survey researchers conducted a comparative analysis of the species diversity and trophic ecology of small mammal assemblages in deserts from around the world. This study will help scientists contrast the influence of local ecological processes, such as competition and predation, with the effects of historical biogeography for determining species diversity in small mammal communities. It will provide new information about similar small mammal communities in deserts on different continents, and help researchers to better understand some of the factors important for their conservation.

Coyotes in agricultural areas
M. Miller, E. Heske
Over the past two decades there has been a dramatic increase in coyote abundance in Illinois. As the state's largest extant predator, coyotes are expected to have a major impact on both their prey species and on other carnivores, such as red foxes. Surprisingly little research has been conducted on coyotes in intensively farmed areas. This study is using radiotelemetry to monitor the movements of coyotes in an agricultural region of east-central Illinois. Better knowledge of the movement patterns, home-range size, habitat use, and general behavior of coyotes in agricultural areas will provide insights into how they interact with and affect other species of game and nongame wildlife.

Wildlife corridors along the Cache River
F. Burbrink, C. Phillips, E. Heske
The pros and cons of wildlife movement corridors have recently been the subject of much debate. This study is examining use of potential wildlife corridors along the Cache River system in southern Illinois by reptiles and amphibians. Additional studies of mammal occurrence in these corridors also has been documented by live trapping and track stations. Physical characteristics of corridors, such as width or habitat type, that affect their use by wildlife will be determined. These results will be useful in designing conservation plans to maintain dispersal routes and preserve the integrity of the reptile, amphibian, and mammal fauna throughout the entire ecosystem.

Computer software available worldwide
R. Diehl, R. Larkin
The Center has created a site for the distribution of wildlife ecology computer software via the World Wide Web of the Internet. Prior to this unique site's existence, much of this material was not widely available, but in its first four months of service over a thousand researchers and wildlife managers from Illinois and more than 30 countries have copied programs from the site. We make available over 100 special ecological and statistical programs. This facility was established with equipment from previous research projects.

Correcting Animal Location Data
R. Diehl
In Illinois and elsewhere it is important to understand how animals use the landscape. By attaching radio transmitters to animals, we may pinpoint their locations remotely from vehicles equipped to receive signals from the transmitters. However, knowing animal locations requires first knowing vehicle locations. Sometimes relatively small errors in vehicle locations introduce larger errors in animal locations. A technique has been developed that corrects some of these errors, allowing greater accuracy in the study of animal movements, especially in agricultural habitats.

Forest tract size and songbird nesting
S. Robinson
Data on the nesting success of forest birds from 30 forest tracts in northwestern, central, and southern Illinois show strong area-related effects. Birds on tracts smaller than 200 hectares (500 acres) generally have very low nesting success as a result of high levels of nest predation and cowbird brood parasitism. Birds on larger tracts have higher nesting success for some species and for some regions of the state. Very large tracts (20,000 acres or more) may be necessary to create forest interior conditions where nesting success is highest.

Population trends of forest birds
S. Robinson
Long-term censuses of forest birds in small (<500 acres) woodlots around Lake Shelbyville continue to show major annual population fluctuations of most forest birds. In contrast, censuses in much larger (>2,000  acres) forests of southern Illinois have revealed substantially less annual variability. These results suggest that high annual variation in populations might be associated with the low nesting success that characterizes small woodlots. Population recoveries in small woodlots may not reflect increasing local nesting success; instead, they may reflect increasing productivity in the larger tracts that provide a surplus of immigrants available to recolonize marginal habitats.

Forest birds in the Cache Bioreserve
S. Robinson, J. Hoover
The second year of study of bird populations and nesting success in the Cache River Bioreserve further demonstrates the need to restore large habitat tracts. Narrow forest corridors and small forest tracts have much lower nesting success than the largest tracts. Nesting success improved in an isolated forest tract following the acquisition and replanting of most of the farmland surrounding this tract. Work on Prothonotary Warblers demonstrates the effects of flooding on nesting success. This species benefits from natural flood cycles, but is adversely affected by many of the abrupt changes in water levels that characterize areas with altered hydrology.

Effects of edge type on nesting success 
S. Robinson, K. Congdon, A. Suarez, L. Chapa, J. Hoover
Effects of habitat edges on wildlife has become a controversial topic. Our data suggest that the structure of edges may be a very important consideration. Abrupt, permanent edges have very high predation rates whereas complex, shrubby edges along natural openings have unusually low predation rates. Managers may be able to reduce the negative effects by mimicking natural disturbances.

Effects of management on grassland birds
J. Herkert, S. Robinson
A new project on the effects of management (e.g., grazing, burning, mowing) and prairie restoration on grassland birds has been initiated in the Prairie Parklands "macrosite," which includes the Joliet Arsenal, Goose Lake Prairie, and the Des Plaines Conservation Area. The goals of this project are to determine how populations and nesting success are affected by each of these management practices. The results of this study will be used to guide large-scale grassland restoration on the Joliet Arsenal/Midewin Tallgrass prairie.

Third bismuth shot study
G. Sanderson, W. Anderson, G. Foley, L. Skowron, J. Brawn, K. Duncan, S. Havera, J. Seets
The second Bi shot toxicity study, completed in November 1994, demonstrated no toxic effects of ingested Bi shot in mallards. A third study of the chronic effects of ingested Bi shot in cold weather on a diet of corn, followed by a study of reproduction, was begun in January 1995. No toxic effects have been found. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service granted conditional approval for the use of Bi shot to hunt waterfowl late in the 1994-1995 season and is expected to extend conditional approval for the 1995-96 season. Unconditional approval is dependent on the results of this study.

New hope for prairie chickens
R. Westemeier, R. Jansen
A study of prairie chickens translocated from Minnesota and Kansas shows encouraging signs of genetically and demographically enhancing Illinois' remnant flock in Jasper County. For example, fertility and hatch rates of total eggs were high (99% and 94%, respectively) for a sample of 18 clutches that were probably hybridized in 1993-1994. Such rates contrast with long-term declines in egg quality over the period 1963-1991 in the study area. Moreover, census results showed an increase from just 7-8 displaying/booming males in spring 1994 to about 60 male prairie chickens in spring 1995.

Private land use near sanctuaries
R. Westemeier
Unfavorable changes in landscapes surrounding wildlife sanctuaries is a common problem as human needs intensify. Objectives once realistic, even dramatically attained (e.g., a 415% increase in prairie chicken numbers during 1968-1973), may subtly become more difficult to achieve. Mapping of private land use near sanctuaries in Jasper County during 1963, 1973, 1983, and 1993 showed corn acreage increasing from 19% to 33% of the land area; soybeans remained stable at about 41%; wheat, wheat stubble-legumes, grassland (hayed, grazed, and undisturbed), and weedy grass-forbs all declined. Early results from this study indicate an increasingly hostile landscape for brooding by prairie chickens.

Natives vs. exotics as restored grasslands
R. Westemeier, C. Rubin, R. Jansen
Misconceptions and controversies persist on the relative merits of native vs. exotic grasslands for prairie chickens and other species. During nest studies from 1963 to 1991, sanctuary stands composed of domestic cool-season grasses contained significantly greater than expected numbers of both total and successful prairie chicken nests than was the case for grasslands dominated by warm-season prairie grasses (WSPG). Using radio-location telemetry year-round (1992-1994), translocated prairie chicken hens used WSPG less than would be expected in all seasons and reproductive periods except for one fall season. Further resolution of the new data may explain the differences in use.

Wetland restoration and creation guide
A. Admiraal, M. Morris, J. Olson, P. Tessene, C. Bolas 
Members of the Wetland and Preliminary Studies Group are writing the Illinois Wetland Restoration and Creation Guide. The purpose of the guide is to provide wetland managers and state agency staff with information for decision-making during each stage of wetland restoration or creation. Guidelines for wetland planning, assessment, design, construction, monitoring, and management are discussed. The project is supported by the Illinois Department of Conservation and is being developed in cooperation with personnel from the INHS Center for Biodiversity, the Illinois State Geological Survey, and the Illinois Department of Transportation. Publication is expected in 1995.

Illinois wetlands conservation strategy
S. Baum
The Illinois Wetlands Conservation Strategy (IWCS) is a comprehensive plan for the development and implementation of Illinois' wetland programs and protection initiatives. The IWCS is a collaborative effort of the INHS, Illinois Department of Conservation, Interagency Wetlands Committee, and a public Wetlands Advisory Group. The latter consists of 190 members representing diverse interests. The final IWCS will provide a detailed assessment with recommendations for each issue and will include implementation procedures. Upon completion, the IWCS will be sent to the Natural Resources Coordinating Council for review by the Office of the Governor.

Wetland group summary of activities
A. Plocher, A. Admiraal, D. Keene, D. Ketzner, M. Morris, J. Olson, S. Simon, P. Tessene, B. Wilm, C. Bolas
The wetland group is conducting biological surveys and wetland assessments of areas to be impacted by construction, and ecological studies of spring seeps, the understories of flood-killed forests, and the relationships of wetland plant species to hydrologic regime. The group also assesses potential sites, periodically monitors the development of created wetlands, and prepares the Illinois Wetland Restoration and Creation Guide. The group also conducts wetland training workshops for the Illinois Department of Conservation (IDOC) and the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, gives presentations on ecology for school children, and is developing the Illinois Wetland Conservation Strategy for the IDOC.

Hydrology and plant zonation in wetlands
S. Simon., B. Wilm, D. Shaw and M. Cardona (University of Illinois), J. Miner (Illinois State Geological Survey), R. Warner (Agricultural Experiment Station)
To aid wetland managers and restorationists, researchers are documenting differences in wetland hydrology and vegetation dynamics for several wetland community types. Vegetation sampling and elevation surveying were conducted at four wetland natural areas and one successful wetland restoration during July 1994. Hydrologic information was compiled from USGS wells and staff gauges and correlated with transect elevation and vegetation data. Additional wells and staff gauges were established at several of the sites during early 1995 and resampled in July. This project is supported by the University of Illinois Water Resources Center, Agricultural Experiment Station, and Illinois Department of Transportation.

Monitoring wetland water chemistry 
S. Simon, R. Cahill (Illinois State Geological Survey)
As part of an ongoing wetland monitoring project, researchers are compiling water chemistry profiles for Illinois' wetland communities. Water chemistry samples were collected and analyzed from 12 wetland natural areas during 1994, including fen, bog, seep, sedge meadow, marsh, and swamp communities. A yearly technical report was provided for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Department of Transportation, who are supporting this project. Water chemistry will be collected again in 1995 at similar sites.

Effects of restoring a historic fire regime 
S. Simon
The ongoing Busey Woods management study continues to examine the effects of fall prescribed burns and spring removal of sugar maple saplings on oak recruitment, spring wildflower populations, summer herbaceous populations, and long-term changes in woody vegetation. Transects in four test plots (fall burn, fall burn and spring cut, spring cut, and control) have been established at the site. Trees, shrubs, and spring and summer herbs were sampled in each plot during 1992 to establish baseline information. Fall burning did not proceed in 1992, but was completed in 1993 and 1994. Plots were sampled in 1994 and will be sampled again in 1995.

Habitat restoration
B. Wilm, M. Morris, S. Simon
Survey researchers, in collaboration with the Champaign County Forest Preserve District and the Grand Prairie Friends, are continuing restoration research at the Middle Fork River Forest Preserve. Formerly in agricultural use, the 8-hectare study site is being restored to native wetland, prairie, and savanna habitats once common in Illinois. Restoration efforts, which began in 1990, have included the return of natural hydrology, the establishment of native vegetation, and the control of exotic vegetation. The relationship between hydrology and vegetation in the restored wetland is being studied and regular monitoring of the changing plant and animal communities continues.

Wetland training workshops
N. Barickman, N. Johnson, T. Glatzel, S. Simon
Personnel from the Wetland and Preliminary Studies Group of the Center for Wildlife Ecology continue to participate in training workshops on identifying and delineating jurisdictional wetlands in Illinois for federal and state employees. The workshops concentrate on the use of the 1987 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual and took place at Allerton Park and surrounding Piatt County field sites in August 1994 and May 1995. The workshops are sponsored by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.



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