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We are working to preserve and restore the habitats that our native wildlife and plants need to survive and thrive. We are also here to help you enjoy the many wonderful creatures that live all around us.

Historically, the southern end of Lake Michigan was a conversion point of several ecosystems, including northern bog and tundra, eastern deciduous woodlands, southern swamps and western prairie. As a result, the lands surrounding Lake Michigan contain some of the greatest biodiversity in the world. Living in the islands of habitat nestled between the human dwellings are thousands of native animal and plant species. Native species are those that have evolved in this region of the country. The species in Lake County, Illinois make up some of the rarest natural communities on Earth.

Biodiversity, short for “biological diversity,” refers to the variety of life forms on Earth. Biodiversity keeps our air and water clean, regulates our climate, and provides all plants and animals (including humans) with food, shelter, clothing, medicine, and other useful products.

Natural communities such as prairies, savannas, woodlands and wetlands once covered the Midwest. Human development of the land and invasive species have greatly affected these communities. Only fragments of the original habitats have survived to current day, jeopardizing biodiversity in Lake County.

Explore Lake County Species

Our scientists use a variety of methods to find, measure and map plant and animal communities within the preserves. Learn more »

The numbers are fed into a powerful database that allows our ecologists to analyze the information in any number of ways to reveal meaningful relationships and trends. Careful information management means that the data we gather now will continue to be accessible and useful into the future.

The database also makes it easier for us to share our information with other conservation agencies and local students. After all, Lake County and all its residents are part of a bigger picture.

The database above displays results from our formal plant and wildlife monitoring programs. Consistent, comparable information is the key to useful data. Learn more »

Our natural resource staff follows strict rules that dictate when, where and what is counted. Consistent collection procedures ensure the data can be compared meaningfully, apples-to-apples or “turtles-to-turtles,” as the case might be.

In addition to data from our formal monitoring programs, we also receive species counts from citizen scientist monitoring networks, research projects and special events, such as our Middlefork Savanna BioBlitz. Since these data are collected irregularly, they are not included in the inventory above.

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