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You are here: NRS Home / Research Programs / Research Natural Areas / Established RNAs / LaRue Pine Hills - Otter Pond
Research Natural Area
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LaRue-Pine Hills/Otter Pond RNA is home to a special little critter, the Eastern Woodrat. Woodrat.  Photo by Aaron Clinton Gooley.
Currently under study, look for it in a film segment on a PBS Nature episode "Animal Homes’ episode II – Location, Location, Location."

 

LaRue Pine Hills - Otter Pond

[photo:] LaRue-Pine Hills-Otter Pond RNA--Floodplain. Photo by Chad Deaton.

State: Illinois

County: Union

Forest: Shawnee

District: Mississippi Bluffs

Established: 1991

Acres: 2585

Description: The RNA contains several, relatively undisturbed natural community types, outstanding geological features, and many rare plants and animals. There are four candidate Regional Forester's Sensitive species, 23 Shawnee National Forest Listed Species, and 29 Shawnee National Forest Listed animals recorded from the area. There are 37 Illinois rare, Threatened, or Endangered plant and animal species in the area. Furthermore, the area contains more plant species than any other site of comparable size and is considered to be one of the most outstanding natural areas in the Midwest . The Federally Endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) and American bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) are observed here. Candidate Regional Forester's Sensitive species known in the area are Price's groundnut (Apios priceana), Arkansas manna grass (Glyceria arkansana), pale manna grass (Puccinellia pallida), and giant sedge (Carex gigantea). The entire Illinois population of woodrat (Neotoma floridana) is found here.

Ecological Information

Physical and Climatic Conditions:

Nearest weather station, with distance and direction from RNA: Climatological information is taken from the collection station at Anna, IL, which is located 10 miles (16.1 km) southeast of the RNA.

Annual precipitation (type, seasonal distribution) : Annual precipitation averages 46 inches (116 cm), 54% of which falls between April and September. Average seasonal snowfall is 13 inches (33 cm).

Maximum and minimum temperatures : Daily summertime temperatures average 77 °F, and daily maximum temperatures average 88 °F. Average temperature in the winter is 36 °F, and daily minimum temperatures average 27 °F.

Elevation: Elevation ranges from 650 feet (198 m) in the swamp to 840 feet (256 m) between Government Rock and McGee Hill.

Geology and Soils: Siliceous limestone of the Devonian Bailey formation forms the high cliffs of Pine Hills. Also present is chert from the Grassy Knob formation, which forms some of the lookouts on the cliffs. Pleistocene-age loess mantles the ridge crest. Sediments in the LaRue wetland have not been examined. Soils in the bottomlands are of the Karnak-Darwin-Jacob association and are clayey, alluvial sediments. Upland soils are Goss-Alford cherty silt-loam on the surface with a cherty, clayey subsoil.

Aquatic Features: At the base of Pine Hills bluff, several springs occur at the floodplain level. The source of these springs may be from sinkholes in the Hutchins Creek area. These springs contain a healthy spring cavefish population. The LaRue wetland is characterized by the winding form characteristic of horseshoe lakes. The swamp represents the meandering course of the Big Muddy River before it was intersected by the Grand Tower bend of the Mississippi River. Several man-made structures modify the waterflow in the area.

 

Ecological Classification & Inventory

Section: Ozark Highlands (222 A)

Subsection(s): Mississippi River Alluvial Plain (222Ao), Illinois Ozarks (Aq)

Natural Communities (list acres):

Xeric upland forest 35 acres
Dry upland forest 730 acres
Dry-mesic upland forest 75 acres
Mesic-upland forest 370 acres
Mesic floodplain forest and wet-mesic floodplain forest 645 acres
Wet floodplain forest 120 acres
Loess hill prairie and limestone glade 10 acres
Limestone cliff ------------
Shrub swamp 390 acres
Pond 210 acres

 

SAF Cover Types (list acres): Kuchler Types (list acres):
40 Post oak-blackjack oak66 Bluestem prairie and 74 Cedar glade (10)
52 White oak-black oak-northern red oak (270) 91 Oak-hickory forest (850)
53 White oak (70) 92 Elm-ash forest (615)
59 Yellow poplar-white oak-northern red oak (50) 93 Beech-maple forest (105)
60 Beech-sugar maple (50) 94 Mixed mesophytic (105)
62 Silver maple-American elm (345) 101 Oak-hickory-pine forest (40)
65 Pin oak-sweetgum (345) 103 Southern floodplain forest (860)
76 Shortleaf pine-oak (35)  
87 Sweetgum-yellow-poplar (20)  
93 Sugarberry-American elm-green ash (770)  
110 Black oak (630 )  

 

View or download (pdfs)

Common Shrub Species: Downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), rosebud-azalea (Rhododendron prinophyllum), farkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum), pawpaw (Asimina triloba), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), American hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens), hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), buttonbush (Cephalantus occidentalis), Virginia willow (Itea virginica), black willow (Salix nigra).

Common Herbaceous Species: Greenbrier (Smilax sp.), pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia), dittany (Cunila origanoides), Virginia-creeper (Parthernocissus quinquefolia), common poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), Christmas-fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), small-flowered alum-root (Heuchera parviflora), ozark-goldenrod (Solidago drummondii), tuckahoe (Peltandra virginica), lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuus), coontail (Ceratophyllum demersum), Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans), sand phlox (Phlox bifida), false boneset (Kuhnia eupatorioides), white prairie clover (Dalea candida), copper iris (Iris fulva), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), side-oats gramma-grass (Bouteloua curtipendula).

Common Mammal Species: Shrew (Blarina brevicauda), least shrew (Cryptotis parva), Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans), swamp rabbit (Sylvilagus aquaticus), fox squirrel (Sciurus niger),gray squirrel (S. carolinensis), golden mouse (Ochrotomys nuttallii), woodrat (Neotoma floridana), fox (Vulpes sp), gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), American mink (Mustela vison), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), bobcat (Felis rufus).

Common Bird Species: Approximately 175 species of birds have been seen in the area, including the wood duck (Aix sponsa), red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus), pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus), common turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), and American bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus).

Related Websites:

Related Reports and Publications:

Anderson, Frank E. 2007. Population genetics of the carinate pillsnail, Euchemotrema hubrichti: genetic structure on a small spatial scale. Conservation Genetics 8(4): 965-975.

Ballard, S.R. 1994. Status of the herpetofauna in the LaRue-Pine Hills/Otter Pond Research Natural Area in Union County, Illinois. Master of Science Thesis, Department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. 167 pp.

Bluett, Robert D.. 2006. Survey on Alligator Snapping Turtle, Recovery Update. Unpublished report on file at the Northern Research Station, Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

Bundy, C. Scott; J.E. McPherson 1997. Life History and Laboratory Rearing of Corimelaena obscura (Heteroptera: Thyreocoridae) with Descriptions of Immature Stages. Entomological Society of America. Systematics January 1997:20-27

Burr, B.M., Cook, K.M., and R.C. Heidinger. 1992. Final Report: Reestablishing bluehead shiner (Notropis hubbsi) populations in Illinois. Department of Zoology and Cooperative Fisheries Research Laboratory, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. 21 pp.

Cooper, Susan E. 2008. Surveying and habitat modeling for gray foxes in Illinois. A thesis submitted for the degree of master of science, department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. 56 pp. Thesis on file at the Northern Research Station, Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

Coppolino, Marla. 2010. Strategies for collecting land snails and their impact on conservation planning. Amer. Malac. Bull. 28: 97-103.

Coppolino, Marla L. 2009. Land snail abundance and diversity with associated ecological variables in six southern Illinois counties. A master of science thesis, Dept of Zoology, Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Thesis on file at the Northern Research Station, Rhinelander, Wisconsin. 96 pp.

Dyer, W.G. and S.R. Ballard. 1991. Ochetosoma aniarum (Leidy, 1891) Skrjabin and Antipin, 1957 (Trematoda: Plagiorchiidae) in Nerodia cyclopion (Dumeril, Bibron and Dumeril, 1854). Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science. Vol. 84 (3 & 4):145-149.

Feldhamer, George A., G.A. Poole, T.C. Carter. 2006. Cooperative furbearing and nongame mammal investigations, study 3: Nongame mammal recovery and investigations - the eastern woodrat of Illinois (Neotoma floridana illinoensis). An annual report under Federal Aid Project W-135-R, submitted by Zoology Department, Southern Illinois University to Division of Wildlife Resources, Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources. Report on file at the Northern Research Station, Rhinelander, WI.

Gates, R.J. 1995. Wood duck population and habitat investigation. Study No. 1: Population monitoring and habitat relationships of Wood ducks in southern Illinois. Final Report W-121-R. Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Cooperative Wildlife Research Lab.

Gillen, Carolyn A. and Eric C. Hellgren.  2013.  Effects of forest composition on trophic relationships among mast production and mammals in central hardwood forest.  Journal of Mammalogy 94(1).

Gillen, Carolyn A. 2011. Effects of forest composition on trophic relationships of mast production and mammals in southern Illinois. A thesis submitted for the degree of master of science, department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. 116 pp. Thesis on file at the Northern Research Station, Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

Holland, Wesley; E. Hellgren; C Nielsen; K Horn.  2013.  A one-year project to update historic (>10 yrs old) endangered and threatened vertebrate element occurrence record information of Illinois Department of Natural Resources administrative region 5.  Copy of final report on file with Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Springfield, IL.  17 pp.

Holzmueller, Eric J., D.J. Gibson, P.F. Suchecki.  2012.  Accelerated succession following an intense wind storm in an oak-dominated forest.  Forest Ecology and Management 279:  141-146.

Holzmueller, Eric J., D.J. Gibson, and P.F. Suchecki. 2009. Using prescribed fire to protect flowering dogwood from dogwood anthracnose (Illinois). Ecological Restoration 27: 392-394.

Hutchinson, Max D. 1987. Establishment Record for the Larue Pine Hills - Otter Pond Research Natural Area within the Shawnee National Forest, Union County, Illinois. (pdf) Unpublished report on file at the Northern Research Station, Rhinelander, and the Shawnee Supervisor's office, Harrisburg, IL. 140 pages with appendices.

Ing, David Michael. 2008. The eastern woodrat (Neotoma Floridana) in southern Illinois: assessment of preexisting and reintroduced populations. A thesis submitted for the degree of master of science, department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. 71 pp. Thesis on file at the Northern Research Station, Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

Jarvi, Mickey P. 2015. Ecophysiological responses of sugar maple roots to climatic conditions. Michigan Technological University doctor of philosophy dissertaion.  Document on file at Northern Research Station, Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

Jones, M. Elizabeth. 2003. Successional dynamics and dendroecology of Pinus Echinata (MILL.) - mixed Quercus forests at LaRue-Pine Hills, southern Illinois. A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the master of science degree, Dept of Forestry, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. 97 pp. Copy of thesis on file at the Northern Research Station, Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

Jones, Michael D. and M. L. Bowles. 2010. Status report for native populations of Shortleaf Pine (Pinus echinata) in Illinois. Report submitted to the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board: Project RC08E10W. Report on file at the Northern Research Station, Rhinelander, Wisconsin. 57 pp.

Loya, L.J., and J.E. McPherson. 1997. Life History and Laboratory Rearing of Oedancala dorsalis (Say) (Hemiptera: Lygaeidae) with descriptions of Immature Stages. Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 99(1), 89-100.

McCall, Robin K., David J. Gibson 1995. Microclimatic influence on spatial heterogeneity and photosynthesis in Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash. And Helianthus divaricatus L. on southern Illinois loess hill prairies. Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois. MS thesis.

McPherson, J.E., and D.L. Tecic. 1994. A Resurvey of the Pentatomoidea (Insecta: Hemiptera) of Pine Hills. Unpublished Report. Department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL.

Nawrot, J R. and J. Spitzkeit. 1986. " Eastern woodrat recovery - Phase I: Habitat protection and population enhancement." Final Report presented to Endangered Species Program, Illinois Department of Conservation. 28 pp.

Nielsen, Clayton; Eric Schauber; Eric Hellgren; Angela Holland; Aaron Gooley. 2015. Cooperative Fur bearing and Nongame Mammal Investigations Study 6: Site occupancy and co-occurrence of aquatic furbearers in southern Illinois. Study 7: Cooperative Fur-bearing and Nongame Mammal Investigations – Demographics and Status of the Eastern Woodrat in Southern Illinois. Federal Aid Project W-135-R. Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory, Southern Illinois University. Copy on file at Northern Research Station, Rhinelander, WI. 121 pp.

Palis, John G.  2016.  Snakes of "Snake Road".  Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society 51(1):1-9, 2016

Racke, A.M. 1996. Pollination Biology and Floral Phenology of Saururus cernuus L. Master’s Thesis, Southeast Missouri State University.

Robertson, P.A. and S. Wierenga. 1993. "Regrowth in a 18 year-old chestnut oak stand in southern Illinois: a progress report." Internal Report, Department of Plant Biology, Southern Illinois University.

Robertson, P.A. 1995. Effects of Prescribed Burning on the Woody Vegetation at Pine Hills Research Natural Area. Unpublished Report. Plant Biology department. Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

Romano, Anthony J., M. Therrell, J. Schoof, D.J. Gibson. 2013. Response of non-native invasive plants to large scale wind damage. Natural Areas Journal 33: 307-315.

Romano, Anthony J. 2012.  Spatial distribution of non-native invasive plants following large scale wind damage at LaRue-Pine Hills/Otter Pond Research Natural Area, Union County, Illinois. (pdf)  Master of science degree thesis. Southern Illinois University - Carbondale. 88 pp.

Saeki, Ikuyo, C.W. Dick, B.V. Barnes, and N. Murakami. 2011. Comparative phylogeography of red maple (Acer rubrum L.) and silver maple (Acer saccharinum L.): impacts of habitat specialization, hybridization and glacial history. Journal of Biogeography 38: 992-1005.

Sikes, James M. and Phillip A. Newmark. 2013.  Restoration of anterior regeneration in a planarian with limited regenerative ability.  Nature 500, 77-80. 

Suchecki, Paul F. and D.J. Gibson. 2008. Loss of Cornus florida L. leads to significant changes in the seedling and sapling strata in an eastern deciduous forest. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 135: 506-515.

Suchecki, Paul, F.  1999. Vegetation analysis and succession at LaRue-Pine Hills/Otter Pond Research Natural Area, Union County, Illinois. Master’s Thesis. Dept. of Plant Biology. Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.  Photocopy on file in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, Northern Research Station. 137 pp

Taylor, C.A. 1991. Reproductive biology of the northern starhead topminnow, Fundulus dispar (Agassiz), with comparisons between natural and captive populations. Master of Science Thesis, Department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. 50 pp.

Tecic, Diane L. 1997. Resurvey of the Pentatomoidea (Insecta: Hemiptera) of Larue-Pine Hills Research Natural Area in Union County, Illinois. MS Thesis, Department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

Wakamiya, Sarah M. 2008. A habitat and population viability analysis for potential peregrine falcon reintroductions in southern Illinois. A master of science thesis, Dept of Zoology, Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Thesis on file at the Northern Research Station, Rhinelander, Wisconsin. 88 pp.

Webb, Donald W. 2001. Sepedon McPhersoni, n. sp., key to North American sepedon, groups in sepedon s.s., and intra- and intergeneric comparison (diptera: sciomyzidae). Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 103: pp. 620-635.

Webb, Donald W.; Mark J. Wetzel; Philip C. Reed; Loy R. Phillippe; Mitchell A. Harris. 1995. Aquatic biodiversity in Illinois springs. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society. 68(2) suppl., pp. 93-107.

West, K. A.  2013.  Investigations of native Pinus echinata (shortleaf pine) in southwestern Illinois; A survey of macrofungi associated with relict native shortleaf pine populations.  Illinois Wildlife Preservation Fund Grant #12-021W.  Copy of report on file at Northern Research Station, Rhinelander, WI.  40 pp.

Wheeler, A.G., Jr. 1994. Craspedolepta Eas: distribution, hosts, and habits of a phlox specialist (Homoptera: Psyllloidea: Aphalaridae). Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 96(1): 91-97.

Williams, M.H. 1996. Small mammal distributions and digital image classification of habitat types in and adjacent to the Upper Mississippi River System (southeast Missouri and southwest Illinois). Thesis. Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, MO.

Williams, M.H. 1997. Small mammals of southwestern Illinois and their habitat preference. Survey submitted to the Illinois Department of Conservation, Springfield.

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Last Modified: 01/11/2017