Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Long Term Survey and Assessment of Large River Fishes in Illinois (LTEF)

LTEF map 2017.jpg

 Reaches of Illinois' rivers sampled by the LTEF program, covering all or parts of the Illinois, Iroquois, Kankakee, Mississippi, Ohio, Wabash Rivers.      



ICopy_of_LTEF_logo.jpgn 1957, William C. Starrett initiated the Long Term Illinois River Fish Population Monitoring Program (long term electrofishing-LTEF) to relate spatial and temporal changes of the fish community to changes in water and habitat quality throughout the entire Illinois River. There were a total of 28 collection sites with 27 sites on the Illinois Waterway (25 sites on the Illinois River and 2 sites on the lower Des Plaines River) and a single site on the Mississippi River below Grafton, IL. The database contains data for most years; funding lapses and high water conditions have precluded 8 years of sampling over the entire span of the LTEF project.  LTEF used the same boat mounted 3-phase AC electrofishing gear to sample fish communities, mostly within side channel habitat. Sampling is conducted for one hour at most sites under the normally stable, low water period during a six-week window between late August and early October. Sampling is not conducted if water levels exceed specific criteria established for each site or water temperature falls below 50° F.



During 2009, the LTEF program expanded fisheries monitoring and research efforts on the Illinois River and portions of the Mis­sissippi River.  During 2010, the program expanded again to include fisheries monitor­ing on the Illinois portions of the Ohio and Wabash Rivers.  However, the expanded fisher­ies monitoring differs from the historic AC electrofishing protocol by using pulsed-direct current (pulsed-DC) electrofishing protocols, similar to that used by the Upper Missis­sippi River Restoration Program’s Long-Term Resource Monitoring (LTRM) element on the Upper Mississippi River System.  To accommodate this expansion, INHS staff from the Great Rivers Field Station, Western Illinois University, Eastern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign all contribute to sampling.  The 3-phase AC electrofishing was discontinued after 2015, although approximately half of the historic AC sites are still sampled with the pulsed-DC gear and protocol.  


Fish data collected include species identification, weights, lengths, and the occurrences of external lesions, parasites, or deformities.  Ancillary water quality data are also collected at each site and include dissolved oxygen, specific conductance, Secchi transparency, and surface velocity.  Currently, funding is provided by the Federal Aid to Sportfish Restoration Program (Illinois Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) as project F-101-R.  Jason DeBoer and Andrya Whitten currently coordinate the LTEF project.

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