Wetlands of the Chicago Region
There are many different types of wetlands found in the Chicago Region. Some examples include bogs, fens, marshes, pannes, ponds, and swamps (see list below). Many of our plants grow only in or around wetlands, yet wetlands are at high risk from human impacts such as drainage, pollution, and invasion by alien plants.
View the wetland indicator status for species in the area (found in the North Central Region) and other information at the United States Fish and Wildlife Service: National Wetland Inventory page [external link].
An Exemplar Wetland in the Chicago Region
The Cowles Bog Wetland Complex, located in Porter County, Indiana, and owned and managed by the National Park Service, is one of several rich wetland areas in the Chicago Region. Though detrimentally altered by human impact during the Twentieth Century, this wetland area is listed as a National Natural Landmark. It still encompasses several types of wetlands including: a forested swamp with yellow birch, red maple, and a rich understory of ferns and small flowering plants; expansive sedge meadow and fen areas; and a mounded, floating bog-like area that supports one of the few surviving populations of eastern white cedar, Thuja occidentalis, in the Chicago Region. This wetland area and the northern-bordering dune forests and active dunes of the Lake Michigan shore is the place where Henry C. Cowles, the originator of the ecological theory of succession, carried out his monumental research in the late 1890's. Today, the National Park Service is involved in restoring sections of this wetland to more natural conditions. Much of the work involves removing invasive plants such as cattail, reintroducing native sedges, and analyzing the current hydrology (water levels).
An early spring view of forested swamp, at the Cowles Bog Wetland Complex in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Porter, Indiana
Related Web Sites
Information provided on this page applies to the Chicago Region and may not be relevant or complete for other regions.
Citation: The vPlants Project. vPlants: A Virtual Herbarium of the Chicago Region. http://www.vplants.org
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