Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

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The Great Rivers Field Station


Providing the ecological information needed to understand and manage great rivers

Great rivers like the Tigris and Euphrates, the Nile, and the Indus were the cradles of the earliest human civilizations. Today, people around the world are still reliant on great rivers for numerous natural resources and ecosystem services, including drinking water, food, transportation, energy, and recreation. Despite their importance, the scientific study of great rivers lags far behind other aquatic ecosystems (oceans, lakes, small streams).

The Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), part of the University of Illinois’ Prairie Research Institute, has committed to increasing the scientific understanding of great rivers necessary for sound management of these critical ecosystems through the Great Rivers Field Station (GRFS) and its sister INHS field stations, the Illinois River Biological Station (IRBS) and the Forbes Biological Station.





GRFS scientists conduct critical long-term monitoring and research and help inform the management of invasive species.

Supporting Fisheries

GRFS scientists conduct monitoring and research for the Long-term Survey and Assessment of Large-River Fishes in Illinois project. This project began on the Illinois River in 1957, and has recently expanded to include the Mississippi, Ohio, and Wabash Rivers.

Restoring Rivers

The GRFS is a partner in the Long Term Resource Monitoring Element of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program. Composed of five federal and five state agencies, this partnership focuses on the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS) and is a world leader in long-term restoration, monitoring, and research.

Advising on Invasive Species

GRFS and IRBS researchers are on the forefront of scientific research on invasive species, especially the invasion of the UMRS by zebra mussels and Asian carp. Our access to long-term monitoring data documenting the establishment, geographic spread, and population increase of these invasive species has allowed us to undertake many additional research projects supported by agencies such as NOAA Sea Grant, IDNR, USFWS, USGS, and the USACE. Recent projects include assessments of the potential prey base for Asian carp in Lake Michigan.


Illinois Natural History Survey

1816 South Oak Street, MC 652
Champaign, IL 61820

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