Life of a River - Biology
Terrestrial animals (pg 1
A mosaic of terrestrial plant communities
provides more diverse habitats that support more
diverse animal communities than homogeneous plant
communities, such as cornfields. Fens, marshes,
floodplain forests, outwash plains, oxbow lakes,
side channels, mudflats, shrub swamps, sand
prairies and wet meadows are examples of habitats
in river systems that support a rich diversity of
life. The physical structure of the habitat in
large part determines habitat quality.
Many reptile and amphibian species rely on
waterways and their surrounding habitat. Pickerel
frogs are closely tied to the forested, coldwater
streams in southeastern Minnesota. While bullfrogs
have been relocated to a variety of areas
throughout Minnesota, the Mississippi River
backwaters of southeastern Minnesota are their only
naturally occurring habitat in the state.
Fallen trees and logs in rivers and along their
banks are important basking sites and provide cover
for a variety of animals. Map turtles take cover
among branches that have fallen into the water.
Other species overwinter amidst the shelter of
dense logjams formed during flood events.