Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Fish and Wildlife Research


David Wahl

Fisheries research in the Survey is diverse, forming the basis for monitoring, management, and protection of aquatic habitat throughout the state, all of which can be used to modify and improve fisheries management for the benefit of anglers in Illinois. A variety of management options are being evaluated, including stocking strategies and harvest regulations.

Fish research on the Illinois River conducted out of the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) River Research Laboratory and Long Term Research and Monitoring Laboratory in Havana involves monitoring the river's 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 in the Illinois River, the influence of commercial barge traffic on the Illinois River ecosystem, comparison of invertebrate communities on dredge spoil with those on natural substrates, and investigation of the use of moist-soil management units by fisheries.


Research conducted by scientists based in Champaign and at the INHS Kaskaskia and Lake Michigan Biological stations focuses upon the potential effects of increased commercial navigation on the mortality of fishes in the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. This research has shown that towboat and barge traffic has the potential to directly increase the mortality of fishes in the main channel of the Mississippi River.

The Survey is also involved in studying fish and fishing at other locations throughout the state. Creel surveys have been conducted on Illinois impoundments. Since 1987, INHS scientists have conducted angler surveys on 68 state-managed lakes 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. All research findings will be useful in making management decisions.




Patrick W. Brown


Wildlife research at the Illinois Natural History Survey is helping to resolve many important problems as well as provide discoveries about the life histories and biology of many species. The range of research is striking. Some studies focus largely on individual species, such as the population dynamics and behavior of coyotes, red fox, Wild Turkey, a variety of songbirds, and Bobwhite Quail. These studies use radio-telemetry in combination with other research methods to determine the survival, behavior, and population change in relation to different habitat conditions. Information from these studies will directly impact management of the species involved and help evaluate the impact of that management on other species. Other research, such as the Gap Analysis Project, addresses issues at a broader geographic scale. The results from this study will provide guidance to federal and state agencies on how best to protect the biodiversity of the landscape.

Some research focuses on 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. For example, one study addresses the effects of deer on plant communities, and other studies evaluate changes in community structure in wetland plant communities related to hydrology (including flooding) and geographic location.


A relatively new and rapidly growing area of wildlife research addresses human dimensions--hunter attitudes and opinions in relation to the variety of management decisions that must be made by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Understanding these opinions is vital to serving the public.

Important research of a long-term nature is continuing. One notable example is the annual spring and fall counts of waterfowl found in habitats along the Illinois River. These data have provided strong documentation of the effects of habitat change on this important group of wildlife species. The long heritage of wildlife research at the INHS is continuing and changing, but the long-term goal to serve wildlife and the citizens of Illinois continues unabated from the past.


INHS Fish & Wildlife Research Projects

Reproductive ecology of largemouth and smallmouth bass
D. Philipp, J. Claussen, T. Kassler, C. Suski, J. Svec, F. Phelan


Impacts of catch-and-release angling in bass
D. Philipp, D. Wahl, C. Suski, J. Parkos

Local adaptation in largemouth bass
D. Philipp, J. Claussen, T. Kassler


Reproductive strategies in bluegill
D. Wahl, D. Philipp, J. Claussen, J. Hoxmeier, D. Aday


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


Developmental genetics of sunfish hybrids
D. Philipp, J. Claussen, J. Epifanio


Quality management of bluegill: factors affecting population size structure
D. Wahl, D. Philipp, J. Hoxmeier


Factors influencing largemouth bass recruitment: implications for the Illinois management and stocking program
D. Wahl, D. Philipp, J. Hoxmeier, J. Parkos


Individual-based modelling of walleye and gizzard shad populations in Illinois impoundments
T.L. Galarowicz (UI), R. Herendeen, D. Wahl


Estimating fish abundance: simulating evasive behavior during netting
R. Herendeen, P. Bayley (Oregon State University)


Yellow perch population assessment in southwestern Lake Michigan
J. Dettmers, C. Caceres


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


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


Levels and effects of metals in small mammals
J. Levengood, E. Heske


Levels and effects of metals in raccoons
J. Levengood



Contaminants in Illinois raccoons, 1983-1985 
J. Levengood, G. Hubert


Landscape ecology of the Eastern Wild Turkey in Illinois
T. Van Deelen


Survival and recruitment of the Eastern Wild Turkey in Illinois
T. Van Deelen


Dispersal and mortality of red foxes in central Illinois
T. Van Deelen


Deer herbivory and bottomland forests
T. Van Deelen


Waterfowl of Illinois: Status and Management (book)
S. Havera, K. Roat, M. Horath, C. Hine, A. Yetter, E. Whetsell


Abbreviated Field Guide to the Waterfowl of Illinois (book)
S. Havera, K. Roat, M. Horath, C. Hine, A. Yetter, E. Whetsell


Aerial inventories of waterfowl populations
M. Horath, S. Havera


Eastern Bluebird population study
S. Havera


The nesting biology of Mallards in Illinois
A. Yetter, C. Hine, S. Havera, M. Horath, E. Whetsell

Evaluation of moist-soil plant communities to water level
E. Whetsell, S. Havera, A. Yetter, C. Hine, M. Horath


Lead shot exposure to ducks
S. Havera, W. Anderson

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