Science Center Objects

Scientists research biology, botany, microbiology, habitat, climate, water quality, and other fields to achieve a comprehensive view of ecosystems and their health. Ecosystems can be easily stressed by human activities, climate change, sediment, nutrients, contaminants, and many other variables. Ecosystem monitoring is critical to ecosystem health and answers important questions about the effectiveness of programs to maintain ecosystem health.

Our research utilizes our broad spectrum of natural-science expertise and information, including extensive data collection and monitoring on varied landscapes and ecosystems, to help understand the interconnectivity of humans, animals, and the environment. 

IN-KY scientists on a boat electrofishing
Scientists electrofishing

Our aquatic biologists and hydrologists study

  • fish and invertebrate population diversity,
  • aquatic organism health, and
  • water chemistry and water quality

Our Data is BIG: We collect and analyze large amounts of regional and targeted water data for 

  • Water quality and aquatic biological characteristics relative to regional and site-specific processes
  • Trends and patterns in large or multiple watersheds
  • Understand specific processes in smaller systems

Our Research

We are establishing an integrated hydrologic, chemical, and biologic knowledge base to serve as the reference for assessing natural and human-induced beneficial or adverse changes to ecosystems health and threats to public health.


Organic Compounds

IN-KY scientists collecting water quality samples from a stream
Scientitsts collecting water-quality samples
  • Sampled source and finished water at drinking water intake in Indiana 
  • Summarized occurrence and concentrations
  • Compared source and finished water organic compound concentrations visually
  • Comparised concentrations to human-health benchmarks

E. Coli

  • Sampled 58 stream sites 
  • Summarized and compared concentrations, including five-sample geometric means, to water-quality standards
  • Evaluated statistical correlations between E. coli and turbidity
  • Analyzed and identified potential to compute E. coli surrogate


  • Sampled 26 watersheds in Indiana
  • Summarized and compared concentration data to water-quality-criteria
  • Estimated loads with LOADEST statistical software and estimated atmospheric deposition
  • Evaluated spatial and temporal patterns and evaluated source influence
  • Collected precipitation from five locations in Indiana 
  • Summarized concentration data
  • Evaluated spatial patterns with isopleths and statistical tests (significant differences)
  • Evaluated temporal trends with Seasonal Kendall test
  • Evaluated factors affecting geographic and temporal variability in concentrations

Organic Wastewater Compounds

  • Sampled culverts, spillways, and tile drain 
  • Summarized detections and concentration data
  • Evaluated detections and concentrations as indicators of residential onsite wastewater disposal (septic tank) effluent
  • Estimated daily loads of indicator compounds
  • Evaluated transport and fate of wastewater compounds

Nutrients, Pesticides, and Major Ions

  • Sampled stream water, groundwater, overland flow, tile drain, vadoze zone, and precipitation from small agricultural watershed
  • Summarized and compared concentrations between hydrologic compartments
  • Compared major ion concentrations between compartments (Piper diagrams)
  • Evaluated transport between hydrologic compartments

Contaminant Source Evaluation

  • Identify possible septic contaminants
  • Distinguish among bacterial sources
  • Protect water supply and beach recreation
USGS scientists sharing their lunch with ducks on the St. Josephs River