Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois


About INHS

Since 1858, the Illinois Natural History Survey has been the guardian and recorder of the biological resources of Illinois— the state’s biological memory. With a staff of over 200 scientists and technicians, it is recognized as the premier natural history survey in the nation. Over the years, its mission has remained to investigate the diversity, life histories, and ecology of the plants and animals of the state; to publish research results so that those resources can be managed wisely; and to provide information to the public in order to foster an understanding and appreciation of our natural heritage.

In the words of Stephen A. Forbes, the first leader of the Illinois Natural History Survey: “The first indispensable requisite is a thorough knowledge of the natural order—an intelligently conducted natural history survey. Without the general knowledge which such a survey would give us, all our measures must be empirical, temporary, uncertain, and often dangerous.”


INHS Director and State Biologist Eric Schauber

Dr. Eric Schauber, Director of INHS

Eric Schauber, an animal ecologist formerly at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, became director of the Illinois Natural History Survey on July 1, 2018.

At Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Schauber was a wildlife ecologist in the Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory and a professor and the director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Zoology. He earned a PhD in ecology from the University of Connecticut, a master’s degree in wildlife science from Oregon State University, and a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology from the University of Massachusetts.

Schauber’s research tackles a broad suite of questions mainly centered around populations of mammals. Topics range from documenting factors that influence where foxes, coyotes, and other carnivores are found across southern Illinois to understanding how marsh rice rats move between wetlands. One main focus of his research has been studying contacts within and between social groups of white-tailed deer, and using that information to understand and manage how diseases spread in the deer population.

He was appointed Illinois State Biologist in 2019. This role was established by the Illinois General Assembly in 2008 to communicate information and provide expert advice to the residents of Illinois and to our legislators and policymakers.

"We are all affected by changes in the abundance, distribution, and behavior of organisms— shade trees; agricultural pests; beautiful birds and butterflies to watch; quarry of anglers, hunters, and trappers; carp and deer posing hazards to boaters and drivers; myriad flowers and their pollinators; vectors of disease; the bounty of morels and chanterelles; beavers creating wetlands that slow runoff but may also flood roadways; and the list goes on," Schauber says. "Our understanding of these organisms is constantly advanced by research conducted at INHS as well as our colleagues across the state and beyond, often published in academic style and behind paywalls. I view the role of the State Biologist as facilitating the transfer of information (both ways!) between scientists, managers, policymakers, and the public."

Illinois Natural History Survey

1816 South Oak Street, MC 652
Champaign, IL 61820

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