Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois


Pat Brown and Jeff Brawn


The landscape of Illinois has been drastically altered since the first settlers arrived in the 1800s. The vast prairies, punctuated by forests, savannas, and wetlands, are gone and agricultural uses now dominate the land. More than 99% of the grasslands, 90% of the wetlands, and about 65% of the forests have been converted to other uses and nearly all of the remaining areas are degraded in some significant fashion. Rivers, streams, and water bodies of all sorts have been degraded by channelization, drainage, damming, and sedimentation. Despite these severe losses of habitat, opportunities exist in Illinois for large-scale management at the ecosystem level. 
The Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) has long conducted restoration and ecosystem research. We work in all the major ecosystems in Illinois including prairies and savannas, forests, wetlands, and waterways ranging from small streams to large rivers. The Survey is involved in many small- and large-scale restoration projects. Among these are the enormous Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie and the Lost Mound Unit of the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge (formerly the Savanna Army Depot). On these areas that were once military reservations, INHS scientists are cooperating with federal agencies in prairie and savanna restorations. Research is focusing on how various restoration and management techniques affect the plant and animal communities. At Midewin, Survey scientists are cooperating with federal management biologists in prairie and savanna restorations, especially in monitoring birds and threatened and endangered plant species. The Lost Mound Unit is an area that was never plowed and is dominated by native sand prairie and savanna vegetation. Over time, road and building construction, intensive grazing, and the lack of natural fires have degraded the natural vegetation. INHS scientists at the Lost Mound Unit are working closely with the Fish and Wildlife Service to manage, restore, and monitor the response of the community in the 3,500-acre upland portion of the area.


On the Cache River in southern Illinois, partial restoration of the normal hydrologic flows and channels is being studied by Survey researchers with the intent of providing information that will be useful in restoration of the river's rich lowland hardwood wetlands and forests. We also are involved in research that will help to restore the backwater lakes, wetlands, riparian forests and other habitats along the Illinois River.

At the James Edgar State Fish and Wildlife Area (formerly Site M), Survey scientists are comparing how traditional management practices and restoration at the ecosystem level affect the population ecology of the Northern Bobwhite.

Survey scientists are enthusiastic contributors to these conservation efforts, partnering with state and federal agencies and private organizations to restore and enhance Illinois' natural resources.



Evaluating the effects of reducing water levels in backwater habitats of large rivers during midsummer
D. Wahl, J. Dettmers, B. Herwig


Sewage treatment as ecosystem management
D. Schneider


Use of stable isotopes to examine food webs in the Illinois and Mississippi rivers
B. Herwig, D. Soluk, D. Wahl, J. Dettmers


Maintaining diversity in aquatic ecosystems: the causes and consequences of pigment variation 
G. Gerrish, C. Caceres 

Linking life-history traits to community dynamics in freshwater ecosystems 
C. Caceres, A. Tessier (Michigan State University)


 Analysis of aquatic resources in habitats out-of-the-pool in the Mississippi and Illinois rivers 


Long Term Resource Monitoring Program: out-of-pool analysis
J. Chick, M. Pegg


Lake Chautauqua Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project (HREP)
J. Stoeckel, K. Irons, T. Cook


Long-term Illinois River Fish Population Monitoring Program
M. McClelland, M. Pegg


Watershed-scale effects of best management practices on stream fish and invertebrate populations in the Illinois Pilot Watershed Restoration Program
D. Wahl, H. Dodd


 Effects of low-level phosphorus inputs on the Everglades ecosystem
A. Edwards, D. Childers, J. Trexler, R. Jones (Southeastern Environmental Research Center, Florida International University)


Frequency- dependent nest predation: implications for species coexistence and prairie management
C. Whelan


Reference stream characterization in the Northeastern Morainal Division of Illinois
E. DeWalt


Vegetation monitoring and comparative analysis of community integrity indices in habitat restorations at Nachusa Grasslands
J. Taft, C. Houser (UIUC), K. Robertson


Bird predation on insect herbivores: effects on plant fitness in experimental prairie restorations
C. Whelan, G. Maina (UI-Chicago)


Vegetation response to prescribed fire in an isolated and degraded prairie grove in central Illinois
J. Ebinger, R. Larimore, J. Taft


Effects of two experimental treatments, prescribed fire and leaf- litter removal, on a disjunct population of Collinsia violacea, an endangered species in Illinois
J.B. Taft, E. Smith (Illinois Department of Natural Resources)


Sand movement and vegetation patterns in blowouts in northwest Illinois sand prairies
A. Symstad

Hudsonia tomentosa survival following wildfire at Ayers Sand Prairie Nature Preserve
A. Symstad


Sand prairie soil seed banks: a comparison of sites in various states of degradation
A. Symstad


Effects of annual burning on populations of Cassia fasciculata(Fabaceae: Caesalpinioideae), with a review of its systematics and biology
K. Robertson, D. Gardner (lay conservationist)


Reference data collection for sand prairie restoration at Lost Mound
A. Symstad


Vegetational changes in dry- mesic forest after controlled burning in the Mississippi Palisades State Park, Carroll County, Illinois
W. Handel, S. Neuendorf (Natural Land Institute)


Seed dispersal, seed predation, and woody invasion of grasslands
D. Wenny, A. Symstad


Bell's Vireo (Vireo bellii) reproductive ecology and habitat selection
C. Whelan


Response of woodland birds to removal of woody understory
C. Whelan, G. Maina (UI-Chicago)


Biology and ecology studies of pathogens 
L. Solter, J. Maddox, K. Higgs, D. Pilarska (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences), C. Vossbrinck (Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station), M. Henn (Technical University of Munich, Germany), J. Novotny (Forest Research Institute, Banska Stiavnica, Slovakia), A. Linde (Fachhochschule Eberswalde, Eberswalde, Germany), G. Csoka, Matrafured, Hungary, M. McManus (USDA Forest Service, CT)


Earthworms in Illinois agroecosystems
E. Zaborski


Converting row-crop agriculture to bottomland forest: the influence of restoration on bird populations
J. Hoover


Monitoring a Neotropical migratory bird: implications for floodplain restoration
J. Hoover


The importance of floodplain forests for wintering birds
J. Hoover


The influence of agricultural in-holdings on the nesting success of forest songbirds 
J. Hoover


The increase of Asimina triloba (L.) Dunal (pawpaw) in the Prairie Peninsula of Illinois
R. Larimore, D. Busemeyer, J. Ebinger


How prescribed fire and management affect plants and animals in oak-hickory forests
C. Dietrich, E. Zaborski, D. Ketzner, J. Brawn, R. Szafoni, R. Larimore, J. Ebinger


Applying spatial information technology to ecological risk assessment in Illinois
J. Levengood, T. Weicherding, S. Lavin


Ecosystem analysis, monitoring, and assessment
L. Suloway


Deer population control and its effects on understory vegetation in Chicago area forest preserves
T. Van Deelen


Classification and identification of critical wildlife habitat
P. Brown, L. Chapa, T. Weicherding, B. Bahnsen, L. Suloway


Illinois Gap Analysis Project
P. Brown, T. Weicherding, L. Chapa, B. Bahnsen


 The vascular flora, lichens, and gastropods of Middle Fork Woods Nature Preserve 
R. Larimore, L. Phillippe, J. Ebinger, D. Ketzner, R. Szafoni


Macroinvertebrate populations and marsh birds in managed wetlands of Richardson Wildlife Foundation
P. Brown, V. Olinik


Population ecology of Northern Bobwhite under artificial and natural management schemes
J. Brawn, J. Siegrist


Public attitudes toward wildlife in urban Illinois
Craig Miller


Ecology of white-tailed deer in urban forest preserves
T. Van Deelen, D. Etter



Alleyne, M., and R.N. Wiedenmann. 2001. Suitability of lepidopteran stemborers for parasitization by novel-association endoparasitoids. BioControl 46(1):1-23.


Chiu, A., N. Chiu, N.T. Beaubier, J. Beaubier, R. Nalesnik, D. Sing, W.R. Hill, C. Lau, and J. Riebow. 2000. Effects and mechanisms of PCB ecotoxicity in food chains: algae-fish-seal-polar bear. Environmental Science and Health 18:27-152.


Dettmers, J.M., D.H. Wahl, D.A. Soluk, and S. Gutreuter. 2001. Life in the fast lane: fish and food webs in the main channel of large rivers. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 20:255-265.


Dunn, H.L., B.E. Sietman, and D.E. Kelner. 2000. Evaluation of recent unionid (Bivalvia) relocations and suggestions for future relocations and reintroductions. Pages 169-183 in R.A. Tankersley, D.I. Warmolts, G.T. Watters, B.J. Armitage, P.D. Johnson, and R.S. Butler, eds. Freshwater Mollusk Symposia Proceedings. Part II. Ohio Biological Survey Special Publication, Columbus.


Gardner, D.C., and K.R. Robertson. 2000. Effects of annual burning on populations of Cassia fasciculata (Fabaceae: Caesalpinioideae) with a review of its systematics and biology. Erigenia 18:22-29.


Gray, B.R., W.R. Hill, and A.J. Stewart. 2001. Effects of development time, biomass, and ferromanganese oxides on nickel sorption by stream periphyton. Environmental Pollution 112:61-71.


Handel, W.C. 2000. When to do little: old and new techniques in community restoration and reconstruction. Pages 30-36 in T.E. Rice, ed. Proceedings of the Fifth Central Illinois Prairie Conference: people and prairies: caring for where we live. Champaign, Illinois.


Hill, W.R., A.T. Bednarek, and I.L. Larsen. 2000. Cadmium sorption and toxicity in autotrophic biofilms. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 57:530-537.

Hill, W.R., P.J. Mulholland, and E.R. Marzolf. 2001. Stream ecosystem responses to forest leaf emergence in spring. Ecology 82:2306-2319.

McNamara, A.E., and W.R. Hill. 2000. UV-B irradiance gradient affects photosynthesis and pigments but not food quality of periphyton. Freshwater Biology 43:649-662.


Molano-Flores, B. 2000. The importance of plant breeding systems in prairie restorations. Pages 16-18 in T.E. Rice, ed. Proceedings of the Fifth Central Illinois Prairie Conference: people and prairies: caring for where we live. Champaign, Illinois.

Parent, C.E., and P.J. Weatherhead. 2000. Behavioral and life-history responses of massasauga rattlesnakes to human disturbance. Oecologia 125:170-178.


Schneider, D.W. 2000. Local knowledge, environmental politics and the founding of ecology in the United States: Stephen Forbes and "The Lake as a Microcosm" (1887). Isis 91:681-705.


Sietman, B.E., S.D. Whitney, D.E. Kelner, K.D. Blodgett, and H.L. Dunn. 2001. Post-extirpation recovery of the freshwater mussel (Bivalvia: Unionidae) fauna in the upper Illinois River. Journal of Freshwater Ecology 16:273-281.

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