Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

The Naturalist's Apprentice:What's in a Wetland

Michael Jeffords, Center for Economic Entomology

Objective: to learn some of the diverse groups of creatures that inhabit Illinois wetlands


Materials: multiple copies of What's in a Wetland?


Vocabulary: community, food web, inventory


Comments: The plants and animals found in wetlands are extremely diverse and form communities that can be very complex. The organisms are tied to one another by food webs, nutrient cycles, and other ecological interactions. One of the first steps a biologist takes in trying to understand the ecological relationships in a given habitat is to do an inventory and identify the different types of plants and animals that live there. Students will use the accompanying poster to conduct a simple inventory of this Illinois wetland.



1. Give each student a copy of the drawing and have him or her place the organisms into the following categories: plants (12), birds (9), mammals (2), insects (2), fish (2), mollusk (1), and reptile and amphibian (3). Use the numbers following the groups to check correct answers.


What's in a Wetland?

Count the number of different kinds of organisms found in this wetland and record your answers here:


___plants ___birds ___mammals ___insects ___fish ___mollusks ___reptiles & amphibians


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