Wetlands Habitat


Arapaho NWR's wetland habitat comprises 824 acres of natural and created ponds and lakes.

Approximately 79 shallow wetlands exist on the Refuge.  The majority (90%) of the wetland basins were constructed after Refuge establishment in 1967.  These artificial wetlands were created to offset wetland losses occurring elsewhere in the central flyway in order to benefit a host of wetland-dependent species, including waterfowl.  Water is diverted from the Illinois River and directed through a complex series of ditches to irrigate meadows and fill ponds.  Water levels in ponds are manipulated to enhance aquatic vegetation to provide food and escape cover for wetland-dependent species.  On Arapaho the aquatic vegetation includes both emergent species including spike rush and bulrush; and submerged species such as sago pondweed, leafy pondweed, and widgeongrass.  Invertebrate abundance is high in these wetland areas providing critical food source for many waterfowl and shorebirds.  Common invertebrates living in the ponds on Arapaho include true bugs, as well as water boatman, backswimmer, predacious diving beetle, and crawling water beetles.  Waterfowl species attracted to the ponds include both diving ducks such as lesser scaup, canvasback, redhead, and ruddy duck and puddle ducks such as mallard, northern shoveler, gadwall, and American widgeon.  Over-water nesting birds such as the black-crowned night-heron, white-faced ibis, marsh wren, coot, and blackbirds also use this habitat.