The original Fishes of Champaign County survey was conducted by Stephen A. Forbes, the first chief of the Illinois Natural History Survey, between 1885 and 1901. This survey consisted of 48 stream sites throughout Champaign County. Forbes, with help from Robert E. Richardson, combined this data with other samples from across the state to publish the 1st Edition of The Fishes of Illinois in 1908. The samples from Champaign County produced 65 fish species and provided us a good representation of fish communities at the beginning of the 20th century.
To build upon the samples performed by Forbes and Richardson, David Thompson and Francis Hunt surveyed 132 sites to produce the 2nd version of the Fishes of Champaign County. These samples, and those done by Forbes and Richardson, were performed before the use of modern electrofishing techniques and primarily used a basic minnow seine. Even using techniques that are quite less efficient when compared to today's methods, the 2nd survey recorded 73 species of fish, a number that is comparable to more recent studies, including 14 species not previously caught.
It wasn't until about 1950 that modern electrofishing was widely used in fisheries science. Armed with these new methods, Weldon Larimore and Philip Smith set out to perform the 3rd Fishes of Champaign County in 1959. Their survey included 151 sites and found 9 species that were new to the county. 28 years later, Larimore, along with Peter Bayley, performed another Fishes of Champaign County survey. This survey was performed in 1987 and mimicked the methods of the 3rd Fishes of Champaign County survey. The four surveys have collected a total of 94 species from the streams of Champaign County. Of these species, four species are considered endangered in Illinois and one species is considered threatened.
It is the goal of our project to resurvey the sites from previous studies in order to assess the current fish communities in Champaign County, and field work began on this project in the summer of 2012.
The landscape of Champaign County has changed since the first edition done approximately 120 years ago. Monitoring the populations of both game and non-game fish species through these changes can help us to understand how changes in landscape affect fish populations. Understanding this will help us to better manage fish populations for both current and future generations to enjoy.
We have selected 172 sites that have been sampled in previous versions of this study and work began in the summer of 2012 and will continue through 2013 (see map below for a listing of the sites to be sampled). To be able to compare our survey to the previous surveys, we are using both sampling techniques used in the original study, seine and electrofishing.
To date, we have sampled 65 sites on the Kaskaskia, Embarras, Salt Fork and Middle Fork basins. From these sites, we collected almost 22,000 fish comprised of 68 species. Due to the drought we experienced in Illinois, low water conditions made smaller stream samplings unworkable. Therefore, in 2013, we plan to sample smaller streams early in the season and then move forward to concentrate our sampling on the Sangamon River Basin sites. Additional sites will also be chosen in accordance with this study.
If you would like to know more about the project or have any questions please feel free to e-mail Josh Sherwood at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him directly at 217-244-2157.
For exact site location, hover over the red dots on the map below.