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36 New Species on Shiawassee Refuge

Staff, volunteers, and cooperating researchers have found 36 species of wildlife previously unknown at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Michigan – including a black-bellied whistling duck that has been recorded in the state only once before. Usually the duck comes no further north than Texas or Arizona.

The refuge has made a targeted effort to learn more about its freshwater mussels – research that uncovered 18 new species, including lilliput, pink papershell, and ellipse mussels. All are listed in Michigan as either threatened, endangered, or of special concern.

One new species is the direct result of habitat restoration. Two singing grasshopper sparrows established territory in newly-restored native prairie vegetation. The site was previously a soybean field.

Not such good news is the arrival of five invasive species that are competing with indigenous wildlife and degrading habitat. The emerald ash border has already affected green ash and general forest health. The rusty crayfish, round goby, zebra mussel, and Asian clam were found during the mussel survey.

Altogether there are now 1,006 species identified at Shiawassee Refuge, which has been called an ark for wildlife in middle Michigan. For more information about the refuge: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/shiawassee.

Contact: Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, 989-777-5930.

Last Update: November 23, 2009

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