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Wetlands Contend for Most Productive Wildlife Habitat

Wetlands Contend for Most Productive Wildlife Habitat

Wetlands rival tropical rain forests as the most biologically productive habitats in the world.

  • Wetlands in the United States support nearly 200 species of amphibians, 5,000 plant species, and one-third of all native bird species.
  • About one-half of the nearly 200 animals that are designated as endangered or threatened in the U.S. are wetland-dependent. Of these listed animals, 17 are bird species or subspecies.
  • Most freshwater fish depend on wetlands for all or part of their life.

Some wildlife species spend their entire lives in wetlands, while others use them intermittently for breeding, nesting, feeding, or rearing their young.

Benefits of Wetlands to Birds. Birds use wetlands for breeding and rearing young. Birds also use wetlands for feeding, resting, shelter, and social interactions. Some waterfowl, such as grebes, have adapted to wetlands to such an extent that their survival depends on the availability of certain types of wetlands within their geographic range.

Birds find food in wetlands in the form of plants and invertebrates such as shellfish. Birds also feed on small mammals and other birds.

Birds find shelter from predators and the weather in wetland vegetation. But beware, predators are likely to abound where birds concentrate, breed, or raise their young. Some predators, such as the raccoon, are well adapted to both wetland and upland environments and take large numbers of both young and nesting birds.

Mammal habitat in wetlands. Few mammals are as closely tied to wetlands as are many birds, but the food, water, and shelter wetlands offer are attractive to many mammals and species of upland wildlife.

Restoring wetlands. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has programs to aid landowners in restoring wetlands, offering both technical and financial assistance.

For more information about conservation practices that can improve wildlife habitat on your land, stop at the local NRCS office.

Wildlife Ways

Did you know....
About one-half of the nearly 200 animals federally designated as endangered or threatened in the U.S. are wetland-dependent.

References

If you encounter any problems with the file provided on this page, please contact Technical Resources at 406-587-6822.

The following documents require Adobe Reader.

Specification 644: Wetland Wildlife Habitat Management (PDF; 47 KB)