Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

INHS large river research began in 1876 when Steven A Forbes chose the Havana area to begin his study of the Illinois River.   In the 1890's a field station was established near Havana and that site is now home to the Steven A. Forbes Biological Station.  The implementation of the Long Term Resource Monitoring Program led to the creation of the Illinois River Biological Station (IRBS) and the Great Rivers Field Station, which in 2002 became part of the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC), a collaboration between the University of Illinois, the INHS, and Lewis and Clark Community College.  

In the late 2000's, INHS large river research grew to include more field stations and personnel.  The Kaskaskia Biological Station expanded their large river research by investigating Asian Carp life histories and their potential impacts on native plankton communities.  Further expansion occurred when INHS staff from IRBS, NGRREC, and the INHS-UI Campus joined with Eastern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University and Western Illinois to more thoroughly monitor fish populations in Illinois's river large rivers.  


  • Long Term Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, and Wabash Rivers Fish Population Monitoring Program (LTEF) - The LTEF began in 1957 to monitor fish populations throughout the Illinois River. Expansions of the LTEF, beginning in IMG_4864.JPG2010, included monitoring the Mississippi, Ohio, and Wabash Rivers along with two in-state rivers: the Kankakee and the Iroquois.  Monitoring is done out of the following offices:
  • Great Rivers Ecological Observation Network (GREON) - The GREON program seeks to establish a network of realtime water quality monitoring buoys on great rivers around the world.  Capable of collecting continuous water quality and phytoplankton data, the first buoy launched in May 2013 on the Upper Mississippi River System. 
  • Asian carp: Ecosystem Responses to Barrier Defense Asian Carp Removal Project -  INHS staff are studying biology of Asian carp species (i.e. Silver Carp and Bighead Carp) and potential effects they are having on native ecosystems.  Research is funded by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and is in conjunction with, and in support of, a number of agencies ongoing attempts to limit the spread of Asian carp and prevent establishment in the Great Lakes.  INHS research into Asian carp covers multiple aspects of their life history and invasion of midwestern rivers and is conducted out of the following offices:
  • Zooplankton research and monitoring in relation to invasive species establishment - Zooplankton are an essential part of any aquatic system and make up the base of the aquatic food chain.  Invasive species, including Asian carp, have the potential to disrupt existing food chains by feeding primarily on zooplankton.  As such, INHS researchers are currently studying potential impacts of invasive species on zooplankton throughout the Illinois River.  Collaborators include:
  • Historical ecology of freshwater mussels - INHS staff at the Illinois River Biological Station are conducting a study to evaluate how long-term, landscape levels changes in the Illinois River have affected aquatic biota.  Through the combined use of museum specimens, modern-day animals, and 1000 year old archeological shell material, freshwater mussel shells can tell us a story that encompasses the past millennium. Collaborative partners include:
  • INHS staff also engage in a number of targeted research projects investigating many aspects of our large rivers, feel free to contact us for additional details.  


Illinois Natural History Survey

1816 South Oak Street, MC 652
Champaign, IL 61820

Terms of use. Email the Web Administrator with questions or comments.

© 2017 University of Illinois Board of Trustees. All rights reserved.
For permissions information, contact the Illinois Natural History Survey.

Staff Intranet