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David Bricker
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Friday, October 17, 2003

News tips from the Indiana Academy of Science

NOTE: The Indiana Academy of Science is holding its 2003 meeting Oct. 16-17 at Anderson University in Anderson, Ind. The following papers are being presented there by IU scientists. To pursue any of these stories, contact David Bricker at 812-856-9035 or

As Indianapolis grows, its wetlands and populations of wetland-loving creatures have been shrinking drastically. A new study by Indiana University Bloomington scientists Lori Block and Vicky Meretsky shows that while the numbers of frogs and toads inside the Indianapolis beltway are probably dwindling, a network of Indianapolis "greenways" may provide these species with their ultimate salvation. Frogs and toads are often considered indicator species because of their sensitivity to environmental change. The City of Indianapolis has been aggressive in creating and protecting existing corridors of native plant and animal life that crisscross the metropolitan area.

"Frog Populations Along the Indianapolis Greenways" -- Oct. 17, 9:20 a.m., Fine Arts 169

Despite decades of study, what makes a wetland successful has largely evaded scientists. But a new study by Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne geoscientist Solomon Isiorho shows that if the circumstances are right, all you need is water. Isiorho found that a nearby, incipient wetland -- formed in a mere three years -- had soil composition and wildlife that were similar to wetlands many decades old. Isiorho's study suggests that given the right kind of soil, a wetland might be constructed quickly, providing a haven for species recently evicted from nearby habitats.

"Hydrology, the Backbone for Wetlands: Lessons Learned from the Laurel Ridge Wetland" -- Oct. 17, 10:40 a.m., Hartung Hall 159

Infections caused by viruses and bacteria have a number of effects on the physiology of animals. It has long been known that ailments often make animals less hungry, but a new study by Indiana University Bloomington scientists Alfredo Durazzo, Kevin Proud and Gregory Demas suggests that the desire to store food for future consumption is not affected in a rodent model. The researchers injected Siberian hamsters -- which hoard food as a matter of habit -- with either E. coli lipopolysaccharides or a saline solution and then examined the eating and hoarding habits of the animals. Initial analysis of their data suggests that the sick animals eat less, but generally continue to store food for later consumption. This may mean that sickness has specific physiological effects on animals, rather than simply causing them to have a complete aversion to food.

"Experimental Sickness Suppresses Food Intake But Not Hoarding in Siberian Hamsters" -- Oct. 17, 10 a.m., Reardon Auditorium

A major effort is under way to restore the Midwest's natural prairie and savannah habitats, wherever that is possible. Indiana University South Bend scientists Andrew Schnabel and Deborah Marr are determining whether early efforts at restoring sandy prairies in northwestern Indiana have been successful. One part of the study by Schnabel, Marr and undergraduates Kari Kubalanza and Stuart Orr is focused on the reproductive success of a native species, white wild indigo (Baptisia leucantha). In particular, the team is interested in whether seed production in the flower is limited by few visits from pollinators, the flower's ability -- or inability -- to produce seed through self-pollination, or the intensity of its seed production in existing and restored prairies. The IUSB study is part of a Nature Conservancy-funded, multi-center project to restore populations of amphibians, reptiles, birds, insects and plants to northwestern Indiana.

"Estimates of Reproductive Success, Herbivory and Seed Predation in Baptista leucantha from the Kankakee Sands Restoration and Surrounding Remnant Prairies" -- Oct. 17, 2:40 p.m., Fine Arts 169

Indiana Academy of Science

The Indiana Academy of Science was founded in 1885 to encourage "scientific research and the diffusion of knowledge concerning the various departments of science, and to promote dialogue between individuals engaged in scientific work, especially in Indiana." It meets every year. Co-founded by geologist John Branner, the academy elected as its first president zoologist David Starr Jordan, whose presidency of Indiana University also began that year. Jordan and Branner went on to become Stanford University's first and second presidents, respectively. Other well-known IAS members include:

* Archaeologist Eli Lilly, whose vision of a scientific research facility created one of Indianapolis' economic cornerstones

* Social psychologist Alfred Kinsey (IU), who began his scientific career as a zoologist studying wasp behavior, but later made lasting contributions to our understanding of human sexuality

* Chemist Herbert C. Brown (Purdue University), who demonstrated that reactions involving organic molecules, despite their tiny size, are still limited by the molecules' physical shapes. He also invented a series of chemical reactions using the element boron that considerably eased the synthesis of chemicals, including pharmaceutical drugs

* Richard Owen (IU), a renowned British naturalist who founded London's Natural History Museum

* Chemist Percy Julian (DePauw University), who made key discoveries that led to the invention of both chemical contraception and immunosuppressive drugs

* Zoologist Carl Eigenmann (IU), who discovered many new species of blind fish and blind salamanders, stunning the world and further cementing the idea that natural selection has few boundaries in its endless modification of organisms