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Technical Report LTRMP 2008–T002

UMRR logo Status and Trends of Selected Resources of the Upper Mississippi River System

A product of the Long Term Resource Monitoring Program, an element of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Upper Mississippi River Restoration

By Barry L. Johnson and Karen H. Hagerty, editors


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Like other large rivers, the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS) serves a diversity of roles. The UMRS provides commercial and recreational fishing, floodplain agriculture, drinking water for many communities, an important bird migration pathway, a variety of recreational activities, and a navigation system that transports much of the country’s agricultural exports. These multiple roles present significant management challenges.

Regular assessment of the condition of the river is needed to improve management plans and evaluate their effectiveness. This report provides a summary of the recent status (mean and range of conditions) and trends (change in direction over time) for 24 indicators of the ecological condition of the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers using data collected by the Long Term Resource Monitoring Program (LTRMP) element of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration. The 24 indicators were grouped into seven categories: hydrology, sedimentation, water quality, land cover, aquatic vegetation, invertebrates, and fish. Most of the data used in the report were collected between about 1993 and 2004, although some older data were also used to compare to recent conditions.

Historical observations and current LTRMP data clearly indicate that the UMRS has been changed by human activity in ways that have diminished the ecological health of the river. The data indicate that status and trends differ among regions, and we expect that regional responses to various ecological rehabilitation techniques will differ as well. The continuing role of the LTRMP will be to provide the data needed to assess changes in river conditions and to determine how those changes relate to management actions, natural variation, and the overall ecological integrity of the river system.

For additional information contact:
Director, Upper Midwest
   Environmental Sciences Center
U.S. Geological Survey
2630 Fanta Reed Road
La Crosse, Wisconsin 54603

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Johnson, B.L., and Hagerty, K.H., eds., 2008, Status and trends of selected resources in the Upper Mississippi River System: U.S. Geological Survey, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, La Crosse, Wisconsin, December 2008, Technical Report LTRMP 2008-T002, 102 p., plus 2 appendixes.



Executive Summary

Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. Status and Trends of Resources in the Upper Mississippi River System


River Hydrology Indicators

Mean Annual Discharge

Seasonal Cycle of Water Elevation

Water Quality Indicators

Major Nutrients (Total Nitrogen and Total Phosphorus)

Chlorophyll a

Total Suspended Solids

Dissolved Oxygen

Suitable Winter Habitat for Sunfishes in Backwaters

Sedimentation Indicators

Depth Diversity in Upper Impounded Areas

Net Sedimentation Rates in Backwaters of the Upper Impounded Reach

Land Cover/Land Use Indicators

Floodplain Forest

Emergent Vegetation

Area of Floodplain Behind Levees

Aquatic Vegetation Indicators

Submersed Aquatic Vegetation

Macroinvertebrate Indicators

Burrowing Mayflies

Fingernail Clams

Fish Indicators


Channel Catfish


Smallmouth Buffalo

Forage Fish Index

Species Richness

Nonnative Fishes

Recreationally Harvested Native Fishes

Commercially Harvested Native Fishes

Chapter 3. Discussion, Conclusions, and Recommendations


Appendix A – Glossary

Appendix B – Acronyms

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