This project involved a lawsuit in the US Federal District Court over chicken farms polluting the Illinois River System in Arkansas, which flows through Oklahoma. I was part of a team from Michigan State University in 2008-09 that was retained on behalf of the Defendants in Oklahoma v. Tyson et al. to conduct additional sampling of benthic macroinvertebrate populations in streams within the Illinois River Watershed (IRW) in northeastern Oklahoma. Specifically, we were asked to address previous scientific studies which claimed detrimental impacts on benthic macroinvertebrates in the basin–e.g., increased nutrient levels and subsequent algal growth–due to chicken farm litter and pollutants. Over a two year period, we conducted sampling of streams and rivers in Arkansas and analyzed biomonitoring statistics. Our results demonstrated that these streams were very productive and diverse with respect to the fish and macroinvertebrate fauna, meaning that we did not find any degradation that we could attribute to poultry litter or other nutrient stress in the streams we sampled. This legal case remains undecided and (still) entangled within the court system nearly seven years after the completion of our study.


Work contracted by Tyson Foods, Inc. | Springdale, AZ


logistical preparation, habitat surveying, population sampling, and data processing


As of January 2017, the paper resulting from this study is unable to be submitted to a peer-reviewed scientific journal on account of its use as evidence in an ongoing trial in a U.S. District Court: State of Oklahoma, et al. vs. Tyson Foods, Inc., et al. , Arkansas (Case No. 05-CV-0329 GKF-SAJ U.S. District Court, Northern District of Oklahoma).