Land Use Impacts on Environmental Quality and Aquatic Biodiversity in the Vermillion River Drainage, Illinois

This project will examine the impact of agriculture and urban expansion on environmental quality and aquatic biodiversity in the Vermillion river drainage. This drainage has historically undergone extreme alteration to support urban expansion and agricultural development. We will examine if this land use is affecting the environmental quality through the diversity and density of fish and crayfish species. Further, we will examine what environmental conditions support the propagation of the renowned invasive rusty crayfish, Faxonius rusticus. This species is rapidly expanding its range across the United States and is known to destroy aquatic vegetation and cause dramatic shifts in local food webs. We will sample agricultural, urban, and natural areas within the Vermillion River drainage to collect stream-reach and watershed scale environmental variables such as land use, water chemistry, and qualitative habitat evaluation indices. By modeling the scale of effect for aquatic species assemblages, we can determine the most effective management practices to promote native species while deterring invasives. As many as 7 crayfish and 78 fish species provide ecosystem benefits in this river and supporting these populations should be a priority for maintaining the health of our water resources.

  • PI: Christopher Taylor
  • PI Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • September 1, 2023 – August 31, 2024