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Biodiversity Inquiry

Posted by Kejsi Ago on March 3, 2022

Stacey Gloss reached out to the iCAP resilience team to ask if Illinois is at lower risk for biodiversity risk due to the fact that "most prairie was wiped out for corn and soy a long time ago". 

Jennifer Fraterrigo replied with the following:

Hi all,


This topic falls within my area of interest, so I skimmed the peer-reviewed scientific article that was published in Ecological Applications upon which the NYT article is based. The authors of the paper model and map protection-weighted range-size rarity (PWRSR), a metric that partly reflects the range size of a species. More weight is given to species with smaller ranges, as these species are expected to be more imperiled. In Illinois, we have relatively few endemic species with small ranges; most species found here have relatively large ranges. Consequently, Illinois scores low on the PWRSR metric and does not appear to be a place where biodiversity is threatened.


That is not to say biodiversity is not at risk here. Rather, the approach used in the study puts less weight on the types of species that tend to inhabit (or could inhabit) the region.


If not already on your radar, an excellent resource for understanding biodiversity patterns and biodiversity threats in Illinois is the Critical Trends Assessment, a program supported by the IDNR and managed by the IL Natural History Survey ( The Urban Biotic Assessment Program may also be of interest (





NYT Article: ld7O5K42eNNfzQueIS5BJQxRJzWkqFostPOrB-PzMmwz5YmBU_3EHhoSfk4zLjbPk6CjH0&smid=url-share