Research Projects

Active Projects

Hua Chen, Department of Biology, UIS:
My research interests concentrate on ecosystem ecology, global change ecology, and restoration ecology. My research projects at the Emiquon Preserve focus on carbon and nitrogen dynamics of restored wetland and prairie. In particular, I am interested in understanding how ecosystem restoration influence carbon dynamics in these ecosystems using a combination of observational studies, field experiments, and simulation modeling.

Stephen Johnson, Department of Chemistry, UIS:
My laboratory has 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. Our current focus is on two particularly common residents of this preserved prairie: the northern paper wasp (Polistes fuscatus) and the bald faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata). We are investigating these PLA₂’s primary structure as well as their unique enzyme kinetics to determine their role in inflammatory and nervous system disorders.

Boat loaded with sampling gearMike Lemke, Department of Biology, UIS:
The goal of my field work at the Emiquon Preserve is to relate changes in the aquatic microbial communities to the structural and functional changes that occur to an ecosystem undergoing ecological restoration. Our active, project at the Emiquon Preserve is a collaborative effort between researchers at the University of Illinois Springfield and research scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the American Museum of Natural History, NY and the University of Maringa, Brazil. We have been monitoring physical and chemical variables and describing microbial (e.g., bacteria, protists, algae) community composition of Lake Thompson water and sediments since 2008.

Amy McEuen, Department of Biology, UIS:
My lab’s research has recently focused on determining what factors influence patterns of plant biodiversity at the Emiquon Preserve’s tallgrass prairie restoration sites. Given that prairie restorations tend to support lower diversity than remnant prairies, we still have much to learn as we attempt to reestablish historic levels of grassland biodiversity. Currently, two projects are being focused on: (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 ChickTih-Fen Ting, Environmental Studies Department, UIS:
Osprey are a rare nesting species in Illinois and is listed as endangered by the state. With funding from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and in collaboration with Illinois Department of Natural Resources, we are working to establish a self-sustaining breeding population of osprey to aid its recovery in Illinois. We use translocation via the hacking technique for the osprey recovery project. This means we bring 5-week-old osprey chicks from the Chesapeake Bay area (i.e., translocation) and raise them here in Central Illinois until they fledge (i.e., hacking). Hacking is a commonly used reintroduction technique to recover osprey populations because of its potential to establish site fidelity in the released birds. One of our osprey hacking sites is by the Illinois River, not far from the Emiquon Preserve.