Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

INHS Public Services


Michael Jeffords


Survey education and outreach activities continue to expand as new projects are developed to complement ongoing activities. New activities this year include a National Science Foundation-funded project for the development of a Web-based identification system called Biological Information Browsing Environment (BIBE). This system will allow volunteers to identify groups of organisms to species by observing characters and entering them into the database. The Illinois EcoWatch volunteers will serve as a focus group. Outreach staff have also been instrumental in the development of the Illinois Environment and Nature Training Institute for Conservation Education (ENTICE) program that will train Illinois school teachers in natural history concepts. Staff had considerable input into the overall organizational plan as well as in developing individual courses. INHS also entered into a partnership with the University of Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES) to develop the Illinois Wilds Institute for Nature (IWIN). IWIN provides a mechanism for extramural course development on a variety of topics and is geared toward individuals interested in lifelong learning. Traditional course development is under way, while a Web-based course is being developed on exotic species through a partnership with the UI Office of Continuing Education. Another new project involves the development of educational materials on exotic species. Included in the materials are full-color posters, specimen boxes of the gypsy moth and Asian longhorned beetle, a full-color calendar for 2001, and curricular materials. The project is funded by IDNR and USDA-APHIS.

solter.gif Despite this flurry of new projects, the "routine" outreach activities continued without interruption. Our annual Insect Expo moved to a new venue (the UI Armory) and played host to 3,500 children from the area. In addition, a Friday night program that featured Insect Theatre and John "The Nature Nut" Acorn attracted several hundred curious viewers. The Purple Loosestrife Education Program also continued with several additional workshops in the Chicago region and one in central Illinois.

Teachers are trained in issues associated with purple loosestrife (loss of biodiversity in wetland habitats) and taught how to rear biological control agents in their classrooms for release in local wetlands. To date, over 150 schools are "making a difference" with regard to helping manage exotic species in Illinois. Work continues on the EcoWatch program with the development of new procedures, a new manual, and a training CD for UrbanWatch, as well as finalization of the ForestWatch and PrairieWatch manuals. Additional training materials were also developed for PrairieWatch. Outreach staff also presented nearly 100 programs across the state to a great variety of audiences, ranging from the keynote address of the Illinois State Museum's GeoExplorer Institute to classroom presentations on the food chain.


The demand for our expertise and services continues to grow and the state's appetite for quality education/outreach programs appears to be boundless. The Survey will continue to do its best to fulfill these needs.

Summary of Office of Education Outreach Activities for FY2000

Activity -- Number
 Publications -- 10

Boards & Committees Served -- 10

Public Presentations -- 85

Queries Answered -- 200 




Outreach Activities of All INHS Staff

The activities of the Education Outreach Program at INHS are supplemented by an amazing array of outreach work accomplished by all researchers at INHS. The Education Outreach Program serves as a clearinghouse for the public, which frequently requests speakers and presenters from the Survey. As illustrated by the table below, INHS' outreach extends well beyond the walls of its headquarters in the Natural Resources Building in Champaign. From public schools throughout the state to international meetings of professional scientific organizations, INHS' reach truly has become global in scope.

Total INHS Education Outreach Activities for FY2000


Activity -- Number
 Publications -- 376

Species Identified -- 17,404

Boards & Committees Served -- 291

Public Presentations -- 648

Queries Answered -- 2,658



Lawrence M. Page

mussel.gif Several scientific disciplines rely on collections of biological organisms. Systematics, the study of the diversity of life--in particular, the study of evolutionary relationships and determination of appropriate names to be applied to populations--traditionally has been the primary interest of scientists working with collections. At the Survey, data extracted from collections, especially data on spatial variation in populations, have been used by systematists to determine which species are found in Illinois. 


This information is used directly or indirectly by every resident of Illinois, whether it be someone interested in controlling pests, or protecting rare species, or using wildlife for recreational purposes such as nature photography, hunting, and fishing.

Scientists other than systematists, particularly ecologists and conservation biologists, increasingly are turning to collections to understand the temporal changes taking place in the state's biological communities. Changes in species distribution and abundance, including the loss of native species and invasions of exotic species, are of general concern to most people and often are best documented and most easily explained by databases built from collection-oriented research. Data associated with the biological collections of the Illinois Natural History Survey effectively provide the public with information about changes that are taking place in the Illinois environment.

With continued modification of natural habitats, the value of collections to society will increase. For many areas, the only records of a species' presence will be the specimens in institutional collections. Fortunately, the Survey has collections that are among the largest and most valuable of any state-supported institution. These collections provide valuable information to decision makers and other citizens of Illinois concerned with protecting the environment. Much of the information used by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to recognize endangered and threatened species, to identify outstanding natural areas, and to develop management programs comes from data associated with the Survey's collections.

The Survey's collections are heavily used by Survey scientists, scientists at other institutions, educators, and members of the general public. They are used in studies leading to reports on the Illinois environment, in scientific publications, and in exhibits. Visitors to the collections in the past year included students from several elementary schools, students and faculty from colleges and universities, scientists from museums, and staff of environmental organizations and governmental agencies. Loans of specimens and collection-associated data went to about 50 colleges, universities, and museums, to several other public and private institutions in Illinois, and to scientists in several foreign countries.




Elizabeth Wohlgemuth

books.gif The Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) Library serves a wide range of library users. As a state agency library it strives to meet the diverse research needs of the Survey scientists and staff members. However, the INHS library is also a departmental library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), so students, faculty, and staff are frequent users of the library. The general public is also welcome to visit the library.

The INHS Library has approximately 600 current journal subscriptions and over 39,000 books and bound journals. Many of these journal subscriptions are received through our exchange program, which comprises 413 exchange partners throughout the world sharing their publications with the Survey. The majority of the library's budget is applied to journal subscriptions and electronic journal databases. This year the library was able to offer on-line access to Zoological RecordFisheries Worldwide, and Wildlife Worldwide. The library holdings are part of the UIUC's on-line catalog and can be accessed on the library's home page at


Charles Warwick

Categories of INHS Publications


* Bulletin: published continuously since 1876, this peer-reviewed journal reports on significant research findings by Survey scientists and other researchers in natural history.


* Biological Notes: published since 1933, this peer-reviewed publication presents research findings at INHS in a shorter, more concise, and less technical manner than the Bulletin. Each issue of the Bulletin andBiological Notes is mailed to various scientific and educational institutions throughout the world; additional copies are requested by ecologists, conservationists, and others throughout the nation.


* Manuals: published at irregular intervals since 1936, these field guides provide detailed descriptions and illustrations of a particular group of species, such as freshwater mussels, longhorned beetles, and amphibians and reptiles.


* Special Publications: the content of this series varies widely, from a collection of classroom activities for teaching biodiversity to school children to a compendium of the history and research of waterfowl in Illinois.


* Illinois Natural History Survey Reports: provide up-to-date information and announcements on many of the research activities of Survey scientists. This bimonthly newsletter has been in continuous publication since 1962 and is free of charge to the public. Call the Survey Distribution Office at 333-6880 to be added to the mailing list, or view INHS Reports on the Web at:


* Educational Materials: for both students and teachers in the natural sciences. These materials include posters, slide sets, classroom activities, laminated fact sheets and species identification cards for the yard and garden, and publications devoted to specific topics in natural sciences written for school children.


* On-line Publications: some of our publications are now accessible on the World Wide Web (Web). These include Illinois Natural History Survey ReportsINHS Annual Reports, INHS Manual 5 (Field Guide to Freshwater Mussels of the Midwest), INHS Manual 8 (Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Illinois), and the INHS Publications Catalog. Prices and ordering information for our publications and educational materials can be obtained at the Publications Catalog Web site at: index00.html or by contacting our distribution office at 333-6880 for a free copy of the INHS Publications Catalog.



INHS Publications in Progress During FY2000


 * Special Publication 22, The White-cheeked Geese 

 * Manual 9, Field Guide to Butterflies of Illinois

* Manual 10, Field Guide of Illinois Bumblebees

* Proceedings of the Fifth Central Illinois Prairie Conference

* INHS Publications Catalog

 * Illinois Natural History Survey Reports (numbers 358-364)

Publications Authored by INHS Researcher During FY2000
 In addition to publications produced by INHS, our researchers contribute a significant number of articles to prominent scientific journals throughout the world as well as technical and research reports to government agencies on the state and federal levels. The table below illustrates the types and numbers of publications produced by INHS researchers during FY2000.


Type of Publication -- Number
 Scientific Journals -- 114

Technical Reports -- 123

Miscellaneous -- 129
(news articles, book chapters, Web pages, book reports, etc.)

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