New Videos Document the Wonders of Iowa's Wetlands

Aerially recorded videos show the richness and diversity of Iowa's wetlands

April 14, 2023, 9:40 am | Adam Janke, Kay Stefanik

AMES, Iowa – The diversity and importance of Iowa’s wetlands is captured in a recently published set of videos recorded from far above the wetlands’ surface.

Thirteen educational wetlands videos were recorded by drone, under the direction of two natural resources educators with Iowa State University. The project is called “Profiles in the wonder of Iowa’s wetlands,” and all videos can be found on the Iowa State University Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension YouTube channel.

Sweet Marsh wetland.Adam Janke, extension wildlife specialist, and Kay Stefanik, assistant director for the Iowa Nutrient Research Center, spent the past two years researching, filming and narrating the videos, which are publicly available on YouTube and will be used to educate Iowans and others about the biodiversity and function of wetlands.

"As we say in the first video in the series, wetlands are perhaps Iowa’s hardest working ecosystem,” said Janke. “So in this series, we really just wanted to tell that story with compelling imagery from all over the state.”

Four videos feature composite imagery from over 20 different wetlands across the state to provide overviews of wetlands (Introduction to Iowa’s wetlands), information about wildlife habitat in wetlands (Wildlife habitat in Iowa wetlands), an overview of recreational opportunities in wetlands (Recreation in Iowa wetlands), and a short guide to finding wetlands (Finding an Iowa wetland near you).

The remaining nine videos were specific profiles of a diversity of wetland types in Iowa including prairie pothole wetlands, oxbow wetlands, urban stormwater wetlands, riverine wetlands, vernal pools, beaver wetlands and nutrient treatment wetlands.

“Wetlands are an integral part of Iowa’s landscape that help improve water quality, provide habitat for local and migrating wildlife, store floodwater and provide recreational opportunities for people. We are hopeful that this project will spark a greater appreciation of wetlands across the state,” said Stefanik.

The project was funded by a Wildlife Diversity Program Small Project Grant, from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. In addition to Iowa State, the videos will be used by IDNR, as well as other conservation-minded partners.

Janke and Stefanik also developed a website about wetlands in Iowa that indexes all the videos and features other materials from Iowa State and other partners that lead in wetland conservation and education in Iowa.

Shareable photo: Sweet Marsh wetland in Bremer County, Iowa.

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