Plants, Fungi, and Animals in our Natural Areas

We work hard to understand the complex network of plant and animal species that call our natural areas home. You can find more information on different groups below.

Plants and Fungi

We have documented hundreds of plant and fungi species in our natural areas: lists are available upon request.


Of the more than 250 bird species on this Garden-wide list, most are best observed in our natural areas, where the diversity of native plant species we manage provide the habitat they require.


We have also documented a number of animal species in McDonald Woods, including 20 mammal species, and a wide range of insects and arachnids. This includes:

  • Ants (10 species)
  • Soil mites and Springtails: These micro-organisms are very important components of the nutrient cycling process within all natural communities. They live in the soil and leaf litter environment and are an under-studied group of extraordinarily diverse life forms.
  • Ground-dwelling spiders (55 species)
  • Butterflies (30 species)
  • Moths (more than 600)

If you don't see what you're looking for or have questions about information available, please email Joan O'Shaughnessy for data related to Dixon Prairie and the Skokie River Corridor, Matt Evans for data related to McDonald Woods, Plant Conservation Science Center Woods, and Lake Cook Natural Area, Jim Jabcon for data related to Barbara Brown Nature Reserve, or Peter Nagle for data related to the Lakes and Shorelines.