The Huron River Watershed is home to a rich array of animal and plant life, including over 90 species of fish and 34 species of reptiles and amphibians. Smallmouth bass thrive in the main branch of the Huron and in the warmer tributaries. Macroinvertebrates living in the water provide important indications of water quality and river health. Common mammals include raccoon, mink, muskrat, beaver, and deer. Full-time and part-time resident bird species include the great blue heron, a variety of wild ducks, and numerous songbirds. The watershed is an important stopover for migrating bald eagles, peregrine falcons, Canada geese, ospreys, warblers, and sandhill cranes.
The watershed’s flora is equally rich in variety, and includes a wide range of mixed deciduous and evergreen forests, flowering shrubs, wildflowers, and prairie grasses. Common woodland trees include oak, hickory, beech, and maple. Tamarack swamps, as well as black ash, elm and other hardwood swamps, are found in the western region of the watershed, while wet prairies of sedges and grasses are more typical of the eastern region.
Unfortunately, the watershed also has become home to a number of invasive species – plants and animals that are non-native to an ecosystem and whose introduction, in addition to being a human health hazard, is likely to cause economic and environmental damage. Examples of invasive species include purple loosestrife, a flowering “weed” that has the potential for wiping out native wetland plants, and the zebra mussel that has caused severe problems at power plants and in municipal water supplies. Zebra mussels also have nearly eliminated the ecosystem’s native clam population.