The Great Lakes contain a variety of habitats that support a broad diversity of life including several different species of plants and fish. These ecosystems each have their own range of climates and soils that support these different species. The fresh water from these lakes is also a resources that helps sustain life on land.

Great Lakes Ecosystems
Tall Grass at sunset
Before the European settlers arrived more than 400 years ago, the Great Lakes basin was made up of tallgrass prairies, oak savannas, woodlands and wetlands, and these different ecosystems were home to many land animals, birds and amphibians.
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a freshwater yellow perch against a green background
Fish make up more than half of the known vertebrate species in the world. Currently, there are about 50,000 known species of fish, with new species being identified every year! Despite the fact that freshwater rivers and lakes represent only about 1 percent of the world's water, more than 41 percent of all fish species are found there.
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Deep sea fishing on Lake Michigan
In the Great Lakes region you'll find the largest continuous mass of freshwater in the world. In fact, these lakes, shared by the United States and Canada, have supported one of the world's largest freshwater fisheries for more than 100 years.
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Beautiful white oak branches seen from a low angle view against a blue sky.
Latin names for plants often include a noun, the generic name, and an adjective, the specific name. The first name is the generic name, and states the genus to which the plant belongs; the second name, called the specific name, describes the species of the plant.
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White Oak
The white pine, Michigan's state tree, is considered to be the largest conifer in the northeastern United States. The needles are soft, bluish-green to silver green in color and are regularly arranged in bundles of five.
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A rainbow trout swims in turquoise clear water
When a species is introduced into a new habitat it lacks natural controls on its population; predators, and competitors are absent and prey don't know how to avoid them. Without these natural controls, populations of introduced species often explode.
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A charter fishing boat on Lake Michigan in the United States.
Today, only pockets of the once large commercial fishery remain. For Canada, the Lake Erie fishery remains prosperous, and represents nearly two-thirds of the country's total Great Lakes harvest. In the United States, the commercial fishery is based on lake whitefish, smelt, bloater chubs and perch, and on alewife for animal feed.
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Native Plants with bug
Native plants are plants that have evolved in a particular region over many thousands of years. Therefore, they have adapted to the climate, geography and animal populations of the region.
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Green leaf with dew on dark nature background.
Flora was once known as the Roman goddess of flowers, though today we use the term to refer to plant life, including trees. We'll be focusing on vascular plants, which typically possess roots, stems and leaves.
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Great Lakes at a Glance

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