Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Midwest Wetlands Almost Gone But May Still Have Most Species

Date:
January 29, 2003
Source:
Society For Conservation Biology
Summary:
Wetlands in the Midwest? It may be hard to believe but vast areas of today's Corn Belt used to get so wet that malaria was common. While the remaining wetlands are small and scattered, there's still hope -- new research shows that most of the original species may still survive.

Wetlands in the Midwest? It may be hard to believe but vast areas of today's Corn Belt used to get so wet that malaria was common. While the remaining wetlands are small and scattered, there's still hope -- new research shows that most of the original species may still survive.

"We often look to other regions of the world as biodiversity hotspots but it is worth noting that some of the most heavily impacted regions – such as the Corn Belt – should not be written off as biodiversity wastelands," says David Jenkins of the University of Illinois at Springfield, who presents this work with Scott Grissom of Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, and Keith Miller of the University of Illinois at Springfield in the February issue of Conservation Biology.

In the mid-1800s, much of the Corn Belt – Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio -- was tallgrass prairie that included extensive seasonal wetlands. For instance, ephemeral ponds used to cover about a fifth of Illinois (nearly five million acres) from roughly early spring to mid-summer. By the mid-1900s, about 85% of these wetlands had been drained and converted to agriculture, which is similar to the rate of deforestation in tropical forests today.

To assess the biodiversity of the Midwest's remaining wetlands, Jenkins and his colleagues studied crustaceans in 13 ephemeral ponds near Bluff Springs, Illinois; the ponds were wide and shallow, three feet deep at most. They chose crustaceans because they are usually diverse and are important to these ecosystems. The researchers sampled crustaceans from the ponds every week during the wet seasons of three years. Because there are no good records of the species that lived in Illinois' wetlands historically, the researchers used their findings to extrapolate backwards and estimate how many crustacean species were there originally and how many have gone locally extinct. These estimations were based on the fact that the number of species depends on how widely distributed they are. Jenkins and his colleagues found 33 crustacean species in the ponds they studied.

These included fairy shrimp, which are large (up to 1.5 inches), delicate and glide around on their backs; clam shrimp, which are dark brown, the size of a pencil eraser, and extremely active; and copepods, which are bright red and swarm in clouds below the surface of the water.

Extrapolating backwards, the researchers estimate that there were as many as 85 crustacean species in Illinois' seasonal wetlands before they were drained. Similarly, the researchers estimate that 8-9 of the original crustacean species may have gone locally extinct.

Taken together, these findings suggest that 90% of the original crustacean diversity may still survive in the few remaining seasonal wetlands in Illinois. This means that despite the huge habitat losses, there could still be time to conserve most of the original species. "Their existence will depend on our attention and action," says Jenkins.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society For Conservation Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society For Conservation Biology. "Midwest Wetlands Almost Gone But May Still Have Most Species." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 January 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/01/030129080238.htm>.
Society For Conservation Biology. (2003, January 29). Midwest Wetlands Almost Gone But May Still Have Most Species. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/01/030129080238.htm
Society For Conservation Biology. "Midwest Wetlands Almost Gone But May Still Have Most Species." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/01/030129080238.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Working Mother DIY: Pumpkin Pom-Pom

Working Mother DIY: Pumpkin Pom-Pom

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) How to make a pumpkin pom-pom. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) The pair of rare white northern rhinos bring hope for their species as only six remain in the world. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Bear Cub Strolls Through Oregon Drug Store

Raw: Bear Cub Strolls Through Oregon Drug Store

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) Shoppers at an Oregon drug store were surprised by a bear cub scurrying down the aisles this past weekend. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Family Pleads for Pet Pig to Stay at Home

Family Pleads for Pet Pig to Stay at Home

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) The Johnson family lost their battle with the Chesterfield County, Virginia Planning Commission to allow Tucker, their pet pig, to stay in their home, but refuse to let the board keep Tucker away. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins