Open Spaces: Oh, The Places You Can Go and the Unsuspected Species You Can See!

Oh, The Places You Can Go and the Unsuspected Species You Can See!

By Brynn Walling, USFWS

Illinois is famously home of the Windy City, but the state is also home to a plethora of diverse plants and animals.

As we continue our year-long celebration of the Endangered Species Act, we’re going to take you on a virtual tour of the various species native to Illinois that make the state special.

Did you know, for instance, that the caves in the Salem Plateau Karst region are home to the Illinois cave amphipod? Although the species has not completely recovered, it has made major strides towards recovery since it was listed as endangered in 1998.

crustaceanThe Illinois cave amphipod. (Photo: USFWS)

But that’s not all.



The Dolomite Prairies, an incredibly rare ecosystem, are found in Illinois. This wet prairie supports complex life systems, including the endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly, threatened lakeside daisy, and endangered leafy prairie-clover.   

dragonflyThe Hine’s emerald dragonfly. (Photo: Dan Soluk/USFWS)

The state is also home to several wetlands, but they have come under threat in recent years due to various types of habitat destruction. This has harmed several species, including the rare eastern massasauga. This small rattlesnake only grows to about two feet in length. While there are conservation plans in place to help this little critter, conservationists still have a long way to go to improve its status and preclude t he need for Endangered Species Act protection.

It’s important to remember that the Endangered Species Act doesn’t simply protect animals, though. The statute protects plants, too, including the eastern prairie fringed orchid—one of the 40-odd plant species found in Illinois.

Learn more about the species native to Illinois and the conservation efforts currently underway to conserve them.

Each week, throughout this ruby anniversary year of the Endangered Species Act, we’re highlighting stories of conservation success in every state across the country.

Stay tuned!

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Last updated: June 21, 2012