Study tracks waterbird use of Chicago-area wetlands

by Diana Yates, University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign
September 14, 2022

A three-year study in northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana found that – even at small scales – emergent wetlands or ponds support many wetland bird species. The study also found that, at least in the years surveyed, the level of urbanization had little effect on most of the studied species’ use of such sites, provided the right kinds of habitat were available.

The new findings are reported in the journal Ecosphere.

Emergent wetlands are shallow-water sites usually found along the banks of rivers, ponds or bogs, where plants like cattails, sedges and rushes grow. Many wetland birds rely on emergent wetlands for shelter, nesting material and food – in the form of fish, reptiles, algae and invertebrates like worms or crayfish. Wetland birds differ in their habitat needs, however, said Illinois Natural History Survey ornithologist Anastasia Rahlin, who led the research in collaboration with Sarah Saunders, a quantitative ecologist with the National Audubon Society; and Stephanie Beilke, a senior conservation science manager with Audubon Great Lakes, which is based in Chicago.

Keep reading:

Read the Ecosphere paper: