Research Projects

Active Projects

Carbon and Nitrogen Dynamics
Using a combination of observational studies, field experiments, and simulation modeling, Professor Hua Chen (Department of Biology, UIS), his colleagues, and his students have been looking at how ecosystem restoration influences carbon and nitrogen dynamics in restored wetlands and prairies.

  • Chen, H, S Popovich, A McEuen, and B Briddell. 2017. Carbon and nitrogen storage of a restored wetland at Illinois’ Emiquon Preserve: potential for carbon sequestration. Hydrobiologia. doi: 10.1007/s10750-017-3218-z.

Insect Venom
UIS Chemistry Professor Stephen Johnson and his students have performed a survey of Phospholipase A₂ (PLA₂) activity of the venom from the aculeate (stinging) Hymenoptera at the Emiquon Preserve finding over 30 species with significant activity. Currently they are focused on two common residents of the restored prairie: the northern paper wasp (Polistes fuscatus) and the bald faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata). They are investigating PLA₂’s primary structure as well as their unique enzyme kinetics to determine their role in inflammatory and nervous system disorders.

Microbial Ecology
Professors Michael Lemke (Department of Biology, UIS) and Keenan Dungey (Department of Chemistry, UIS), along with their students and collaborators (research scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the American Museum of Natural History, NY, and the University of Maringa, Brazil) have been monitoring physical and chemical variables and describing microbial (e.g., bacteria, protists, algae) community composition of Thompson Lake water and sediments since 2008. The goal of this long-term project has been to elate changes in the aquatic microbial communities to the structural and functional changes that occur to an ecosystem undergoing ecological restoration.

Praire Restoration
Professor Amy McEuen (Department of Biology, UIS) and her students have been focused on determining what factors influence patterns of plant biodiversity at the Emiquon Preserve’s tallgrass prairie restoration sites. Currently, they are focused on two projects: (1) Can species’ geographic distributions predict establishment success in tallgrass prairie restorations? (2) How has the tallgrass prairie flora changed after nine years of restoration?

Osprey Hacking
Osprey are a rare nesting species in Illinois and is listed as endangered by the state. With funding from U.S. Fish and WildlifeOsprey Chick Service and in collaboration with Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Professor Tih-Fen Ting (Environmental Studies Department, UIS) and her students are working to establish a self-sustaining breeding population of osprey to aid its recovery in Illinois. 5-week-old osprey chicks from the Chesapeake Bay area (i.e., translocation) are brought over and raised in Central Illinois until they fledge. This technique which is called “hacking”, is a commonly used for reintroduction of osprey populations because of its potential to establish site fidelity in the released birds.


Gulls Flying