People around the world are reliant on great rivers for numerous natural resources and ecosystem services, including drinking water, food, transportation, energy and recreation. Despite their importance, the scientific study of great rivers lags far behind other aquatic ecosystems like oceans, lakes and small streams.

The Great Rivers Field Station (GRFS), together with its sister field stations—the Illinois River Biological Station and Forbes Biological Station—at the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), is committed to increasing the scientific understanding of great rivers necessary for sound management of these critical ecosystems.

Supporting fisheries

GRFS scientists conduct monitoring and research for the Long-term Survey and Assessment of Large-River Fishes in Illinois project. This project began on the Illinois River in 1957, and has recently expanded to include the Mississippi, Ohio, and Wabash Rivers.

Advising on invasive species

GRFS and IRBS researchers are on the forefront of scientific research on invasive species, especially the invasion of the UMRS by zebra mussels and bigheaded carp. Our access to long-term monitoring data documenting the establishment, geographic spread and population increase of these invasive species has allowed us to undertake many additional research projects supported by agencies such as NOAA Sea Grant, IDNR, USFWS, USGS, and the USACE. Recent projects include assessments of the potential prey base for bigheaded carp in Lake Michigan.

Restoring rivers

The GRFS is a partner in the Long Term Resource Monitoring Element of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program. Composed of five federal and five state agencies, this partnership focuses on the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS) and is a world leader in long-term restoration, monitoring and research.