|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
UIS Biology program hosts "Bioblitz" at Emiquon
October 10, 2006
SPRINGFIELD – On Saturday, September 23, a group of 17 students in biology courses at the University of Illinois at Springfield and Lanphier High School participated in the First Annual Bioblitz at UIS' Emiquon field station, along the Illinois River, near Havana.
Under the direction of faculty and other naturalists, students taking part in the "blitz" collected an assortment of plant and invertebrate specimens at two different locations at Emiquon. One of the event organizers, Jim Bonacum, assistant professor of Biology at UIS, explained: "The purpose of a Bioblitz is to perform an intensive short term survey of the biodiversity at a particular site and Emiquon represents a unique opportunity for this type of study."
Emiquon, the site of nearly 7,500 acres of land, owned by The Nature Conservancy, was once a productive wetland, though for the past 80 years the site has been used for row crop agriculture. The restoration of the wetlands is slated to begin this fall after the final crop is harvested, and is of considerable interest to scientists and environmentalists around the world as it is one of the first river reclamation efforts to be undertaken on such a large scale.
Said Bonacum, "Our aim in the Bioblitz was to provide a snapshot of the biological diversity at the site in the fall of 2006, which is particularly important in light of the plans for its restoration. The collection that the students made this year will serve as a biological 'baseline' for an ongoing biodiversity survey at the site. We anticipate that collections made in future years will document an increase in biodiversity associated with the restoration."
In addition to Bonacum, event organizers included UIS Biology program faculty members Michael Lemke, who also serves as UIS Emiquon field station director, Amy McEuen, and Lucia Vazquez, as well as Lanphier science teacher/UIS biology graduate student David Peeler. Naturalists Maria Lemke from The Nature Conservancy, Leon Hinz from the Illinois Natural History Survey, and Ben Dolbeare from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources also took part in the event.
In the coming weeks, the students will continue to work with the faculty in labs at UIS to archive the specimens and extract DNA from them. Students will use these samples to create a DNA sequence data base that will allow biologists to identify specimens using both traditional taxonomy and state-of-the art molecular approaches.
"This is a joint project between our faculty and local agencies to help our students develop expertise in a broad range of biological techniques, ranging from field-based surveys to the most modern molecular techniques within the context of an actual research project," said Bonacum. He added that in future years the hope is to widen the participation beyond students to include members of the general community as well.
For more information, contact Bonacum at 206-6035 or Lemke at 206-7339. Information about UIS' Emiquon field station is available at www.uis.edu/emiquon/about/index/html.
|The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 42 degree programs – 21 bachelor’s, 20 master’s, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.|
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