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The Illinois Natural History Survey’s Illinois River Biological Station (IRBS) is one of six stations of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration (UMRR) Program’s Long Term Resource Monitoring element (LTRM), funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and administered by the United States Geological Survey’s Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, La Crosse, Wisconsin.  Staff here also coordinate the Long Term Survey and Assessment of Large River Fishes in Illinois (LTEF) on the Illinois River Waterway and select pools on the Upper Mississippi River, black carp research on the La Grange Reach of the Illinois River, invasive carp monitoring in backwaters of the Peoria Reach of the Illinois River, fish and vegetation monitoring and research at the Emiquon Preserve, and aid in the Illinois Department of Natural Resources ongoing management of bighead and silver carps.

Buffalo species, shad species, and silver carp on a ruler board
Top (left to right): bigmouth buffalo, black buffalo, smallmouth buffalo. Bottom: gizzard shad, threadfin shad, and silver carp (Photo Credits: Kris Maxson and Jason DeBoer)

The Illinois River Biological Station is supported by the Prairie Research Institute, Illinois Natural History Survey; Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Great Lakes Restoration Initiative; U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through the Upper Mississippi River Restoration; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service through Sport Fish & Wildlife Restoration grants; and The Nature Conservancy.

IRBS staff also coordinate and undertake various other research programs focusing on large river ecosystems and are active in outreach to the public. Please visit our Facebook page for regular updates and amazing new pictures.

Long-Term Monitoring & Research at the Illinois River Biological Station

LTRM & LTEF Monitoring

The biological station is part of two long-term monitoring programs, LTRM and LTEF. Both of these programs have been maintained by biologists at IRBS for decades focusing on fisheries monitoring in both the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.

Multiple native fishes
Illinois River Fishes. Top, left to right: highfin carpsucker and bowfin. Bottom, left to right: red shiner and pumpkinseed sunfish (Photo Credits: Kris Maxson and Jason DeBoer).

Read more about LTRM here -> or LTEF here ->


The Emiquon Preserve

The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve is one of the largest floodplain restoration projects in the United States. IRBS has monitored the aquatic vegetation and fish communities at Emiquon Preserve’s Thompson and Flag lakes since 2007.

Fish sampling at Emiquon
Annual fish sampling at the Emiquon Preserver (Photo Credits: Olivea Mendenhall and Amber Blackert).

Read more about The Emiquon Preserve here –>


Invasive Species Research

The biological station is actively involved in research on Asian carp species in the Illinois River Waterway partnering with multiple state and federal agencies in Illinois and the surrounding states. Several research projects have also been completed on non-native species that have become established in the Illinois River Waterway such as white perch, round goby, and zebra mussels.

Invasive silver carp
Invasive, juvenile silver carp resting on a measuring board and Large River Fisheries Ecologist, Jason DeBoer, holding a adult silver carp (Photo Credit: Andrya Whitten).

Read more about current invasive species research on the Illinois River here -> or on the Upper Mississippi River here ->