Urban Wetlands are Home to Wildlife

You might not be thinking much about frogs, turtles and other hibernating wildlife, but under snow and ice lie important wetland ecosystems that support a diversity of plants and animals and provide vital services for people.

Wetlands are low-lying areas of land saturated with water. They have important roles in the environment like protecting against floods, filtering pollutants out of water and performing chemical reactions to maintain water quality. Wetlands are also biodiversity hotspots, providing habitat for many species during all or part of their life cycle.

Wetland at Terra Cotta Conservation Area.

With modern settlement, we’ve lost about a third of the wetlands in the Credit River Watershed to agriculture and urbanization. Wetlands in urban parts of the watershed are few and far between. But that doesn’t make urban wetlands any less important than their larger and more numerous rural counterparts. In fact, urban wetlands play the same role in the environment.

Wetlands are one of the ecosystems we monitor in our Integrated Watershed Monitoring Program (IWMP). We’ve found that although urban wetlands may not support as many species as rural ones, they’re still home to plenty of plants and animals. Our urban wetlands provide habitat for sensitive frogs and birds including species at risk, like western chorus frog, eastern whip-poor-will and common nighthawk.

Common nighthawk. Photo credit: Tim Kuntz

Across the watershed, wetlands and the wildlife they support are vulnerable to stressors like urbanization, pollution, disease and climate change. But there’s much we can do to protect and restore the watershed’s wetlands. Here are just a few tips:

  • Apply winter salt sparingly on your driveway and walkways. Road salt is toxic to frogs.
  • Clean your boots and gear after hiking or fishingto reduce the spread of pathogens and invasive species.
  • Green your property. Let us help you restore your wetland and other natural features.

Check out our IWMP StoryMap Collection to learn more about urban wetlands, what we’re doing to protect them and how you can help.

Share your wildlife photos with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

By Adrienne Ockenden, Specialist, Watershed Monitoring

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