Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois


David Wahl


Fisheries research in the Survey is diverse, forming the basis for monitoring, management, and protection of aquatic habitat throughout the state. The research we conduct is used to modify and improve fisheries management for the benefit of anglers in Illinois. A variety of management options is being evaluated, including stocking strategies and harvest regulations. The Survey is involved in studying fisheries at various locations throughout the state including several INHS biological stations.

Fish research on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers is conducted out of the INHS Illinois River Biological Station in Havana and Great Rivers Biological Station in Brighton, both with the Long-term Research and Monitoring Programs. At both stations we are monitoring conditions and learning more about the survival and reproduction of aquatic organisms. Many studies are being conducted, including continued evaluation of the status of mussel populations, the influence of commercial barge traffic, comparison of invertebrate communities on dredge spoil with those on natural substrates, and investigation of the use of moist-soil management units by fisheries.

Work at the INHS Lake Michigan Biological Station in Zion focuses on understanding yellow perch recruitment and assessing inshore fish populations. The inshore efforts primarily study smallmouth bass utilization of the newly installed artificial reef. Additional studies are assessing the potential impacts of round goby introductions. We also continue to conduct long-term creel surveys on Lake Michigan and Illinois impoundments. INHS scientists have conducted angler surveys on 68 state-managed lakes since 1987 to estimate the total fishing effort, the species, numbers, and weights of fish harvested and released, and the species targeted by anglers at these lakes. The data collected are directly applicable to the management of these lakes, especially in evaluating the effects of short-term management changes and supplemental stocking on yield and catch per angling effort and the impact of sportfishing intensity on the resource. cosgriff4.gif

Fisheries research at the INHS Kaskaskia, Ridge Lake, and Sam Parr Biological stations is addressing issues related to reservoir, pond and stream management, and have included past studies of muskellunge and walleye. Current studies are assessing potential management strategies to reduce stunting in bluegill populations and increase size structure. Studies of largemouth bass are attempting to understand recruitment mechanisms and stocking success. A variety of factors may influence survival of young largemouth bass including prey populations, environmental conditions, and angling, particularly during the spawning period. We are assessing each of these so that management efforts can be targeted towards the most important ones. We are also monitoring survival of different sizes of stocked largemouth bass to optimize hatchery production.


Pat Brown

martin1.gif Wildlife research at the Illinois Natural History Survey addresses a wide variety of issues. Some studies focus largely on individual species whereas others focus on landscapes or specific issues, such as the use of radar to detect nocturnal migrations of songbirds. Current research includes studies on a variety of mammals and birds as well as research on their habitats. Biologists often will use radiotelemetry in combination with other research methods to determine the survival, behavior, and population change in relation to different habitat conditions or other new methods and approaches to answer difficult questions. Information from these studies will improve our knowledge of the biology and habitat requirements of wildlife and will help managers and other researchers in many ways.

Research on species as diverse as Wild Turkey, Northern Bobwhite, Mallards, Prothonotary Warblers, white-tailed deer, red fox, coyotes, and Franklin's ground squirrels are helping biologists to better understand the population dynamics, importance of predators, and habitat needs of these species. Other research addresses issues at a broader geographic scale. One example is the Illinois GAP analysis, part of the national Gap Analysis Project, in which areas with high biodiversity are identified to aid conservation agencies and organizations. The results from this study will provide guidance to federal and state agencies on how best to protect the biodiversity of the landscape.

One new and rapidly growing area of research involving wildlife focuses upon humans--especially hunter and public attitudes and opinions as they relate to wildlife issues in Illinois. This research is varied and includes surveys of public opinions and attitudes on issues as diverse as hunter opinions about hunting regulation changes and attitudes of Chicagoans toward wildlife nuisance problems. Understanding the attitudes and opinions of the public is extremely important in management of wildlife.

An unusual quality of many wildlife research projects at the Survey is the long duration of study. Important long-term research is continuing. One notable example is research on Prothonotary Warblers in the Cache River watershed. Hundreds of nests have been monitored over the past nine years, resulting in an extraordinary understanding of the nesting requirements for this species and the habitat conditions needed to create suitable habitat. This information has led to a clearer understanding of what is needed to restore watersheds for the Prothonotary Warbler. Some research in the Survey focuses upon the development of new techniques, such as the ability to monitor bird migrations using radar or to remotely monitor wildlife with radiotelemetry. Other research focuses on the plant communities that are vital to wildlife and important in their own rite as part of Illinois' natural heritage. One example is a study of the effect of deer on plant communities; another study is intended to evaluate changes in community structure of wetland plant communities in relation to hydrology (including flooding) and geographic location.

These and other studies on wildlife by the INHS provide the citizens of Illinois with a better understanding of the issues and help wildlife managers effectively administer state resources.



Sportfishing creel survey of the Illinois portion of Lake Michigan
J. Dettmers, D. Philipp


Growth and survival of nearshore fishes in Lake Michigan
J. Dettmers


Mechanisms affecting recruitment of yellow perch in Lake Michigan
J. Dettmers, B. Pientka, C. Caceres


Effects of food availability on recruitment of yellow perch in Lake Michigan
B. Graeb, J. Dettmers


Population viability of mottled sculpin in Black Partridge Creek
J. Steinmetz, D. Soluk


Reproductive ecology and impacts of catch-and-release angling in bass
D. Philipp, J. Claussen, D. Wahl, C. Suski, T. Kassler, J. Parkos


Creel surveys on Illinois impoundments
D. Benjamin, B. Carroll, L. Miller-Ishmael, D. Philipp


Physiological ecology of centrarchid fishes including energetics of parental care

Illinois Natural History Survey

1816 South Oak Street, MC 652
Champaign, IL 61820

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