MMRWFS's Present and Future | Center for Ecology | SIU

Southern Illinois University



Center for Ecology

Present and Future

Research and Education

Our vision for the MMRWFS is that it will serve as an important resource for researchers, resource managers, and educators that are interested in any aspect of large river floodplain ecology, management, and restoration. This unique facility provides opportunities for research on how floodplain wetlands function, factors such as hydrology that structure floodplain wetland ecosystems, and the feasibility and efficacy of various restoration practices. The MMRWFS is also being developed as a demonstration site for alternative, sustainable use of floodplains.

If you are interested in using the field station for research or educational activities, please contact Dr. Matt Whiles, Department of Zoology, Center for Ecology, and Fisheries and Illinois Aquaculture Center at SIUC. Researchers using the site will be charged a modest site use fee and use of the overnight facilities is currently $10 per night per person. There are no fees associated with educational use of the site. If you are interested in utilizing one of the other properties, specify which one in the Wetland Unit section of the Research Permit Application.

Research Permit ApplicationEducational Use Application

Maps required to fill out permit applications: MMRWFS North MMRWFS South

Water Level Data

water levels

Water level and temperature data have been collected in all nine wetland cells since 2006. Data sets will be periodically updated on this page. Use of these data for anything other than personal or educational purposes requires the consent of the station director 
(Matt Whiles, SIUC Zoology).

Year: 2006-07, Wetland Cell Number: 123456789
Year: 2007-08, (due to severe flooding at Cape Bend in early spring, it was not possible to access the wetlands during this period.
Year: 2009
Year: 2010
Year: 2011
Year: 2012 

Public Use

The Cape Bend State Fish and Wildlife Area is owned by the state of Illinois and is thus open for public use, with restrictions based on current research activities. Research areas that are sensitive to human disturbance will be marked as such and visitors are asked to not tamper in any way with any equipment, markers, flagging, etc. on the site. Interpretive trails and wildlife observation areas are being developed so that the general public as well as educational groups can enjoy the area and learn more about large river floodplains. Cape Bend will be open to hunting during the normal seasons set by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Individuals will be required to sign in and out when hunting on the property. Questions about hunting on the property should be directed to the IDNR Union County Conservation Area office (618) 833-5175.

Current Research

Since 2006, research has been conducted through SIUC on the property, and has investigated:

  • Floodplain water body connectivity.
  • Waterfowl utilization of actively and passively managed floodplain wetlands.
  • The taxonomic variability of parasitoid wasps in the Middle Mississippi River region.
  • Waterfowl migration
  • Aquatic invertebrate roles in floodplain foodwebs.
  • Amphibian mate recognition

A hydrologic monitoring network was installed on the Cape Bend property during the summer of 2006. The network consists of water depth and water temperature data logging devices placed in monitoring wells at the outlet of each wetland cell. These units continuously collect temperature and depth data year-round, providing important baseline information for research projects in the wetland cells.


Part of the large steel building on the west side of the property was recently developed as housing for researchers. The building will serve as the base of operations for the station. There is an apartment in the building capable of sleeping six, with all of the necessary amenities including kitchen and bath. There is also a large equipment and boat storage area and another large room that is being developed into laboratory space. A trail system was also created to facilitate moving about the property. Trails will be mowed periodically during the growing season and provide access to the wetland cells. The river can be accessed from a levee road and there is a public boat launch at Thebes, less than 5 miles south of the property.