Monday, November 20, 2017

UIS scientists’ research on the Illinois River floodplain published in a special research journal issue

The restoration of the Illinois River floodplain is the focus of research by University of Illinois Springfield scientists in a newly published 200 page special issue of Hydrobiologia, the international journal of aquatic sciences. The restoration efforts are taking place at the Emiquon Preserve in Fulton County, Illinois.

UIS Biology Professor Michael Lemke co-guest edited the journal and was lead author on two articles exploring “Diversity and succession of pelagic microorganism communities in a newly restored Illinois River floodplain lake” and “Echoes of a flood pulse: short-term effects of record flooding of the Illinois River on floodplain lakes under ecological restoration,” as well was co-author on three other articles. Both the microbe and flood articles were co-authored with Keenan Dungey, UIS associate professor of chemistry.

“It’s unique for so many UIS scientists to contribute to research related to the same area of study,” said Lemke. “To my knowledge, this has not been done at the science level, at least since I’ve been at UIS. This is a whole 200 page special issue.”

UIS faculty members Hua Chen, associate professor of biology, and Amy McEuen, associate professor of biology, co-authored an article on “Carbon and nitrogen storage of a restored wetland at Illinois’ Emiquon Preserve: potential for carbon sequestration,” which was published in the special edition. UIS alumni Doyn Kellerhals, Michelle Randle and Sara Paver also contributed to the research.

In the issue, the scientists review the changes to the Illinois River over the centuries, yet emphasis is on a period of restoration at Emiquon during the period of initial restoration efforts to the connection to the IL River, thus providing a unique perspective for describing river ecology restoration. The papers describe (1) how planktonic microorganisms, vegetation, fish, and waterbird communities responded rapidly to flooding of former shallow lakes and wetlands that had been drained and used for dryland agriculture for 83 years; (2) how variation of hydrologic conditions favors biotic community diversity and conditions for carbon sequestration; (3) how fish populations imposed a trophic cascade and affected diversity, yet may not help control some undesirable fish species; and (4) how simulation models are useful in planning, but that restoration practice and management decisions must adapt to present conditions, involve trade-offs, and are influenced by competing stakeholder interests.

“Water level management remains the most important factor in the restoration ecology of floodplains; however, the establishment of a river–floodplain connection should be managed to achieve a balance between establishing hydrology that mimics natural flood pulses while minimizing contemporary threats, including excessive nutrient and sediment loads and invasive species,” said Lemke.

Hydrobiologia, founded in 1948, publishes original research, reviews and opinions investigating the biology of freshwater and marine environments, including the impact of human activities. The entire special edition is available at https://link.springer.com/journal/10750/804/1/.

For more information, contact Michael Lemke, UIS professor of biology, at 217/206-7339 or mlemk1@uis.edu.