The Great Lakes ecosystem's sand dunes, coastal marshes, rocky shorelines, lakeplain prairies, savannas, forests, fens, wetlands and other landscapes contain features that are either unique to or best represented within the Great Lakes Basin, according to a 1994 biodiversity report by The Nature Conservancy.
For example, the Great Lakes sand dunes are one of the largest systems of freshwater sand dunes in the world, ranging from high, forested dunes and linear dune ridges commonly backing sand beaches, to active dune fields covering thousands of acres, such as those near Ludington, Michigan. Native dune species include the dune thistle (Cirsium pitcheri), Houghton's goldenrod (Solidago houghtonii) and the Lake Huron locust (Trimerotropis huroniana).
Some of the last, best examples of the continent's most imperiled savanna communities lie along the lakeplains of the southern Great Lakes, near Windsor, Ontario, and along the southern shores of Lake Michigan, in particular. Also occurring in the lakeplains is a unique community of arctic and prairie species that persists from the colder, then dryer climatic periods following glaciation. Often called by the Scandinavian name "alvar," these communities are scattered in an arc that follows the Niagaran Escarpment from upper Michigan through southern Ontario and to northwestern New York. Never widespread, this remarkable open bedrock landscape remains intact in only a handful of places.
The extensive freshwater marshes of the Great Lakes coasts also are unique in ecological character, size and variety. They range from small wetlands nestled in scattered bays to extensive shoreline wetlands such as those of southwestern Lake Erie, freshwater estuaries such as the Kakagon Sloughs of northern Wisconsin and the enormous freshwater delta marshes of the St. Clair River.
EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative U.S. Environmental Protection Agency This U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office webpage provides up-to-date information on the President's budget proposal to allocate $475 million towards an EPA-led interagency Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
Habitat Advisory Board Great Lakes Fishery Commission The Great Lakes Fishery Commission has long recognized that habitat quality and quantity relates directly to determining which measures will ensure maximum sustained productivity of Great Lakes fish.
Habitat Management Programs U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service This index provides information about the various habitat management programs in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
NOAA Restoration Center National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) The NOAA Restoration Center enhances living marine resources to benefit the nation's fisheries by restoring their habitats.
Prairies in the Prairie State Presented by the Openlands Project and the Illinois State Museum, this exhibit discusses the environment, plants and animals, and human interaction of the Midewin Tallgrass Prairie
Prairies of Illinois Illinois Department of Natural Resources Illinois is known as the "Prairie State," part of the vast grassland in central North America. Learn about the remnants of tallgrass prairie and related flora and fauna through this series of maps, photos and historic overviews.
Education Habitattitude U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Adopt a conservation mentality: Protect our environment by not releasing unwanted fish and aquatic plants into the wild. Find out what you can do to help this growing problem on this site.
Living By Water Project The mission of the Project is "working towards healthier human and wildlife habitat along the shorelines of Canada", and to help shoreline residents obtain information to protect their property, prevent problems like erosion, and protect water quality, fish and wildlife habitat.