The Army Corps of Engineers plans to launch a long-term study this month to study birds and bats near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.
The Corps of Engineers' biologists want to track the populations of birds and bats that live on islands in the river and study what habitat conditions best support them.
A wide variety of species is a sign of a healthy ecosystem, said Lane Richter, a Corps of Engineers ecologist. Plant and animal life have declined along the Mississippi River due to dams, levees and other manmade structures that degrade wetlands and other crucial habitats. Studies have also shown that climate change has caused many North American bird species to decline.