Chicago Ecological Services Field Office

Featured Species

Hine’s emerald dragonfly

The Hine’s emerald dragonfly is the only federally endangered dragonfly species in the United States and is found in Illinois, Missouri, Michigan and Wisconsin. Listed in 1995, the major reasons for its endangered species status are loss of its rare habitat and its isolated and fragmented populations. Female adult Hine’s emerald dragonflies lay their eggs in small streams in groundwater-fed wetlands. After hatching, the aquatic larvae spend four to five years in wetlands before completely maturing and emerging as adult dragonflies.

The Chicago Ecological Services Field Office coordinates the national recovery of the Hine’s emerald dragonfly. We work with partners to restore and protect its habitat, monitor populations and survey (including new eDNA protocols) potential habitat, promote groundwater conservation and conduct captive rearing and population augmentation.

Eastern prairie fringed orchid

Our office coordinates recovery actions for the federal threatened eastern prairie fringed orchid. We coordinate research of this orchid species to better understand its biology and habitat requirements. A range-wide genetic study of this species has suggested that all populations across eight states show similar genetic structure structure
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, likely due to historically high connectivity. For this reason, hand pollination using pollen from different populations and seed augmentation between populations are important genetic restoration techniques. Current research is being conducted to isolate and identify the soil mycorrhizae needed by this orchid for successful germination of its seed. Experimental seed germination in the lab using the identified soil mycorrhizae has been accomplished with seedlings being planted in appropriate habitat and monitored for their survival.

In Illinois, we work with close to 70 volunteers who are dedicated to the 38 extant populations they monitor. Each year, the volunteers monitor the blooming orchids within their population, hand pollinate the flowers, often using pollen collected by volunteers at different populations, make and deploy cages around the blooming plants to protect their hand pollinated plants from deer browse and go out again in the early fall to monitor the seed capsule production. When seed is set, volunteers collect and distribute seed between populations to ensure genetic diversity and resilience of the populations. The Fish and Wildlife Service is extremely grateful for all the hard work these volunteers contribute to recovery of this species.

In addition to our “species lead” responsibilities for recovery of the Hine’s emerald dragonfly and the eastern prairie fringed orchid, we are also actively involved with the conservation of other threatened and endangered species, including the piping plover, the leafy prairie clover, Pitcher’s thistle and the rusty patched bumble bee.