Projecting Habitat for Native Species Within Binder Park Zoo’s “Swamp Adventure” and Surrounding Wetlands

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Riegel, Thomas O.
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Binder Park Zoo is a mid-sized zoo located in Battle Creek, MI that has a special focus on conservation of wild animals and their natural habitats. The zoo is spread out over 130 acres of varying Michigan habitat with another 300 preserved, but not accessible to the public. Satellite images or USGS hydrology surveys typically show large generalizations of areas and can prove to be too large-scale for much of the information required to accurately predict habitats for any specific species. They show broad patterns in a specific area but are not precise enough to aid in animal releases or to determine the likely location of a species . It is for this reason that field-work must be done to obtain reliable and pertinent data on specific wetland habitats. Maps found online from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Michigan Center for Geographic Information (MCGI) and National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) gave brief descriptions of the wetland areas in Binder Park Zoo. These maps also gave insight into what types of habitat and vegetation were present, but also showed where more detailed information needed to be taken to record pertinent information for this study. The “Swamp Adventure” (shaded area, Figure 1) is extremely flat, satellite images show that it is largely dominated by tree cover. Topographic images can tell about basic water flow, National Wetlands Inventory has undertaken a project to map out nearly all wetland areas in the continental United States. Wetlands are divided up according to their general vegetation, hydrology, and human-influenced characteristics and data are available to the public online at the NWI site (Binder Park Zoo wetlands from NWI shown in Figure 2). The focus of this study was on the wetland areas accessible to the public that provide a stable home to many native species. Habitats were categorized and quantified for reference to either locate indigenous species or introduce endangered native species into the public wetland areas within Binder Park Zoo.This survey attempts to detail specific habitats as they relate to the location of, or introduction of, native Michigan species.
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