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Coastal Dune Ecosystem


Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum

People on Dunes

Within this module you will investigate the following aspects of Coastal Dunes:

  • Types of Coastal Dunes
  • Dune Life Zones
  • Plants
  • Animals
  • Piping Plover
  • Dwarf Lake Iris
  • Map of Michigan Coastal Dunes

Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes

Did you know that the Great Lakes are home to the largest collection of freshwater dunes in the world? Or, that Michigan, with 275,000 acres of coastal sand dunes, is home to more freshwater dunes than any other state? Most of Michigan’s dunes were formed around 4000-6000 years ago, following the melting of the glaciers that once covered our region. Today, this fragile ecosystem offers habitat to a wide variety of plants and animals, some of which are threatened or endangered. Coastal dunes are popular places to visit because of their sandy beaches and opportunities for recreational use. In addition, sand from Michigan dunes has been highly prized for its use in foundries that produce metal car parts. In this module, you will learn about how Coastal Dunes are formed, the different life zones of coastal dunes, where they are located in Michigan, some of the plants and animals, and how we can help take care of them.

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