Ecological Status and Trends of the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers

Open-File Report 2022-1039
Species Management Research Program and Land Management Research Program
Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Edited by: Jeffrey N. Houser


Executive Summary

This report assesses the status and trends of selected ecological health indicators of the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS) based on the data collected and analyzed by the Long Term Resource Monitoring element of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration program, supplemented with data from other sources. This report has four objectives: providing a brief introduction of the UMRS, including its significance, history, modern-day stressors, and recent research; using ecological indicators to describe the status of the river system and where and how it has changed from circa 1993 to 2019; discussing management and restoration implications of these changes; and highlighting the fundamental role of long-term monitoring in the understanding, management, and restoration of large-floodplain rivers.

The data were collected in the six Long Term Resource Monitoring element study reaches that spanned much of the UMRS and the various gradients contained therein. These study reaches included Navigation Pools 4, 8, 13, and 26; the part of the Unimpounded Reach of the Upper Mississippi River between Grand Tower and Cairo, Illinois; and the La Grange Pool on the Illinois River. The indicators included in this report describe the status and trends for the hydrology, geomorphology, floodplain vegetation, water quality, vegetation, and fishes of the UMRS. Many of the indicators of river ecosystem health changed significantly over the nearly 30 years of our evaluation. However, there was substantial spatial variability in the magnitude and timing of those changes among study reaches. Few indicators changed everywhere or nowhere; most indicators changed in some reaches but not others. The quantitative assessments of these indicators describe how the conditions of the river differ across hydrogeomorphic and climate gradients and through time and are intended to support the restoration and management of the UMRS.

Suggested Citation

Houser, J.N., ed., 2022, Ecological status and trends of the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers (ver. 1.1, July 2022): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2022–1039, 199 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

ISSN: 0196-1497 (print)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Executive Summary
  • Chapter A: Introduction
  • Chapter B: Hydrologic Indicators
  • Chapter C: Geomorphic Indicators
  • Chapter D: Land Cover Indicators
  • Chapter E: Water Quality Indicators
  • Chapter F: Aquatic Vegetation Indicators
  • Chapter G: Fisheries Indicators
  • Chapter H: Using Long-Term Data to Understand the Causes and Consequences of Changes in Water Clarity and Aquatic Vegetation in the Upper Impounded Reach of the Upper Mississippi River
  • Chapter I: How and Why the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Long Term Resource Monitoring Element Played a Key Role in Understanding Invasive Carp in North America
  • Chapter J: Summary and Synthesis
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Ecological status and trends of the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2022-1039
DOI 10.3133/ofr20221039
Edition Version 1.0: June 22, 2022; Version 1.1: July 14, 2022
Year Published 2022
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
Description xiv, 199 p.
Country United States
State Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin
Other Geospatial Illinois River, upper Mississippi River
Online Only (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details