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Environmental Science Programs
University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

Lake Owen

The River Studies Center (RSC), created in 1972, is a non-curricular unit established to focus on research and informational programs pertinent to the Upper Mississippi River and its related resources. These activities are performed in the spirit and letter of the Select Mission of UW-La Crosse that states "The University shall support studies related to the environment, culture, heritage, institutions and economy of La Crosse and the surrounding Upper Mississippi Valley region." During the past 30 years, the RSC has expanded its activities to other aquatic resources in Wisconsin and the region, such as northern lakes.

Faculty members in several departments, including Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Geography and Earth Science, History, and Microbiology, are active in RSC research activities, nearly all of which utilize undergraduate research assistants. In the past ten years, RSC faculty and staff have in excess of $5 million to fund research and research training on the Mississippi River and its tributaries, lakes in the upper Midwest, and laboratory studies.

Recent Areas of Research
  • Distribution, abundance, and production of benthic invertebrates, algae, bacteria, aquatic macrophytes, zooplankton and fish in the Upper Mississippi River

  • Ecological effects of landscape transformation and watershed disturbance on lotic communities

  • Contamination, bioavailability, and microbial transformations of metals in aquatic systems

  • Toxicant effects on structure and function of aquatic communities and behavior of fish, invertebrates and aquatic systems

  • Applications of molecular techniques to studying aquatic microbial processes

  • Effects of commercial and recreational navigation on the resuspension and transport of sediments in the Mississippi River

  • Ecology and pathogenesis of fish parasites

  • Effects of bacterial and viral pathogens on feral and hatchery fish

  • History of the upper Mississippi River region

  • Biogeochemistry of mercury and heavy metals

  • Aquatic ecotoxicology

  • Water use in the Pacific Northwest, comparative history of hydrological development of the Volga and Mississippi Rivers

  • Paleolimnology, diatoms, zooplankton

  • Ecological impact of reed cannarygrass on wetlands in the upper Mississippi River

For additional information about the River Studies Center, click here.