New Floodplain Ecology Field Course Offered at NGRREC

Article by: Louise Jett,


EAST ALTON – The National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC℠) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, offered a new field course focused on large river floodplain ecology during the spring of 2015.

A series of classroom lectures at the U of I was followed by a five-day field experience at NGRREC’s Jerry F. Costello Confluence Field Station, located on the banks of the Mississippi River in East Alton, Illinois.  

Students studied multiple aspects of large river floodplain ecology by participating in a variety of field-based exercises focused on water quality, vegetation and herpetofauna in floodplains and restored wetlands associated with the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

“This was the first field course we’ve offered to university students at the field station, and I think it set a great benchmark for the additional classes on river ecology that we plan on teaching here,” said Terrestrial Ecologist Lyle Guyon. “The river, floodplain and wetland ecosystems in the area provide a fantastic setting for this type of field experience.”

Students learned how historic management practices have impacted these river systems, and how current, science-based approaches to management and ecological restoration are impacting river health and sustainability.

The class also gained an understanding of public land and water management programs and private conservation efforts through field trips to nearby refuges, migratory bird sanctuaries and active restoration sites. Course instructors included Guyon, Watershed Scientist John Sloan and Terrestrial Wildlife Ecologist John Crawford, all of NGRREC℠.

The National Great Rivers Research and Education Center is a partnership of Lewis and Clark Community College and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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