(Ethan Freese/University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
Beyond the beetle
Southeast Nebraska is home to a unique ecosystem known as the eastern saline wetlands. These wetlands derive their salinity from salts that were deposited deep underground when much of the United States was covered by a massive inland sea. The wetlands once covered 20,000 acres in Lancaster and Saunders counties. Today, only 4,000 acres remain. The wetlands are also home to the federally endangered Salt Creek tiger beetle. Conversations surrounding Nebraska’s saline wetlands often focus on whether or not we should be setting land aside to save the tiger beetle. While the beetles are an important indicator species for this unique ecosystem, there are hundreds of other species that call these wetlands home. This Story Map aims to highlight the biodiversity presents in Nebraska’s saline wetlands and the efforts that are underway to preserve them for future generations.