Wildlife Use Patterns in a Constructed Wetland

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray, Biology, Dr. K. Greg Murray, Biology

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Wetland habitats fill vital environmental roles because they typically enhance wildlife diversity and perform important ecosystem services. The Outdoor Discovery Center/ Macatawa Greenway in Holland, MI began construction of a wetland from an agricultural field in the summer of 2015, hoping to trap sediments that otherwise travel downstream to Lake Macatawa while restoring wildlife populations. However, this site is near Tulip City Regional Airport, which raises concerns for increased aviation collisions with wildlife. Our study investigates the potential wildlife hazard to aviation and explores ecological questions regarding transitional changes of wildlife use of different habitats. We measured wildlife activity and abundance as well as vegetation structure at the constructed wetland and at nearby wet meadow, open water, and airport habitats. Compared to previous agricultural land use, the new wetland has shown a substantial increase in vegetation structural diversity and wildlife species diversity. Seasonal migrations dominate changes in wildlife abundance, activity, and aviation threat in each habitat type. Results thus far suggest no consistently increased hazard to aviation even though wildlife has flourished in the new wetland.


This research was supported by the Outdoor Discovery Center /Macatawa Greenway and the Department of Biology at Hope College.

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