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Michigan wetlands a "gradient" of biodiversity, CMU grad researcher says

Olivia Anderson
Courtesy Photo
Amber Hubbard poses in a Michigan swamp. She worked with the Uzarski lab at CMU along with Michigan EGLE for research to understand Michigan wetlands.

Invertebrates like snails, mollusks, and dragonflies populate Michigan wetlands. The animals – like the wetlands - are resilient to human activity but can still be in danger.

Amber Hubbard is a CMU graduate student researcher. Her team worked with the Michigan department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy to study wetlands and explore the impact of human activity.

She found that human activity can decrease the diversity of invertebrates, but it takes a lot of activity.

“It almost forms sort of a gradient where you could expect certain organisms in the wetland if it was relatively healthy, and kind of shift towards different organisms when it was relatively unhealthy," she said.

Many of the species are “generalists,” meaning they adapt well to different conditions, even those brought on by humans, Hubbard said.

"While I wouldn’t recommend, you know, building farms around all our nice, precious wetlands, it isn’t as bad necessarily as it could be," she said. "So that just makes it more important for us to conserve the healthy swamps that we have left in the state."

Hubbard said the goal of her team is to find evidence to push policy towards protecting Michigan wetlands.