Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Data Management and the Illinois Decision Support System


The INHS Illinois River Biological Station at Havana, Illinois (Havana Field Station: is a remote installation of the INHS and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). The station hosts a Long Term Resource Monitoring Program (LTRMP) with major funding provided by the IDNR, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. The primary responsibility of Havana LTRMP staff is monitoring water quality, vegetation, macro-invertebrates, and fish along an 80-mile reach of the Illinois River. The mission of the LTRMP is to provide decision- 
makers with information for sustainable management of the Illinois River.

The Illinois River Decision Support System (ILRDSS: http://ilrdss.sws., see Fig. 1) is a Web-based interface that provides access to high-quality information about the Illinois River and its watershed. It is currently supported by staff from several Illinois scientific surveys, but is largely an endeavor of the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS). The ILRDSS began in 1999 as a resource for water quality and hydrologic model investigations. Its design has expanded to include information resources, modular databases, and simulation models to evaluate a wide range of impacts upon restoration activities and sustainability of the Illinois River.

This ILRDSS requires information from a variety of sources. Largely lacking at present are sources of biological data. The LTRMP staff at Havana generate large volumes of biological data and have done so for over a decade. Currently these data are maintained in an Oracle database at the USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Science Center (UMESC) in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. The latter provides public access to the data at that can be queried by year, GIS coordinates, organism (fish and invertebrates mostly), and so on. These data may be downloaded as a text file. Lacking at this point in the UMESC data management structure is the conversion of data into information useful in decision making. These data would be a valuable addition to the ILRDSS.

Funds associated with the ILRDSS now support a database developer/manager, Edward Chen, at the INHS. Until recently, he has been designing a database management structure for the Critical Trends Assessment Program, a statewide monitoring program consisting of both scientists and volunteers ( Additional funding is now available for a Web programmer. This second position will help form the basis of a data management team. This latest development will enable the team to undertake additional data management objectives for the LTRMP staff at Havana. Negotiations are now under way between the team and LTRMP staff to

* create a relational database;

* create Web interfaces to host the database for input and output functions;

* develop automated, standard report templates for converting data to information for a range of uses and levels of understanding;

* design a Web geographic information system interface to visualize LTRMP data spatially.

The undertaking of these objectives will begin sometime in the spring of 2002. Having a centralized data management system at Havana will not only aid LTRMP staff in meeting their objectives for monitoring the Illinois River, but will also provide an integrated vehicle for delivering information to a wide range of users. Coupling this data source with additional information from the ILRDSS will provide the kind of integrated information needed to make management decisions for the Illinois River basin.

Dr. R. Edward DeWalt, Center for Biodiversity

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