How the shrinking of the Great Salt Lake will affect animals

This is another guest post from Dan Coconate. While this topic isn’t cat-centric, it covers a vital issue: water. As climate change progresses and the global population grows, it will be increasingly important to pay attention to how we treat our water supplies.

The Great Salt Lake in Utah. Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay.


Declining levels in the Great Salt Lake hurt the surrounding ecosystems, and it’s essential to know the specific effects. With this quick guide, you’ll understand how the shrinking of the Great Salt Lake will affect animals.

Why Is the Great Salt Lake Important?

The Great Salt Lake is important because it is where wildlife feed, nest, and rest. Furthermore, a sizable portion of Utah’s wetlands is in the Salt Lake’s ecosystem. The lake is vital to brine shrimp, brine flies, algae, zooplankton, and animals near the area.

In particular, you’ll find wild horse habitats in Utah. The lake is the primary water source for horses and other creatures like wild elk, foxes, and bighorn sheep. Species take advantage of the abundant nutrient source the lake provides.

How the Drought Impacts Surrounding Wetlands

The lake and surrounding wetlands are nutrient-rich sources for migrating birds and other wildlife. However, a shrinking lake also impacts the three major bays (Ogden, Farmington, and Bear River Bay). If there is no water in the bays, aquatic vegetation and food sources decline for different species.

The shrinking of the Great Salt Lake will affect animals, disrupting the habitat. We’ll see the main impact on birds as limited supply forces them to migrate to different places. For land animals (such as horses and elk), water restrictions lead to dehydration, liver damage, and death.

A salty lake bed

The Domino Effect of Shrinking Lakes

A domino effect or chain reaction is when one event sets off a series of similar events. In the environment, predicting domino effects lets people determine possible future issues.

If birds don’t find enough water in the Salt Lake, they’ll continue to migrate. However, flying around and searching for food is physically taxing. If they can’t replace their fat reserves, birds will deteriorate, become susceptible to diseases, and eventually die off.

Furthermore, animals become sick by consuming disease-ridden birds. All this is to say, shrinking lakes will eventually affect entire ecosystems.

Ways People Can Preserve Lakes

Stopping the shrinking of lakes is a huge environmental effort. However, it is possible.

People can preserve great lakes by being mindful of the products they use. For example, certain laundry detergents pollute waterways, so use eco-friendly cleaners and items.

Furthermore, conservation practices like not dumping sewage in lakes are essential. It’s all about protecting our water and playing our parts in our ecosystems – which we are part of as well.

About the Author

Dan Coconate is a local Chicagoland freelance writer who has been in the industry since graduating from college in 2019. He currently lives in the Chicagoland area where he is pursuing his multiple interests in journalism.

4 Thoughts

  1. Hi Josh, thank you for sharing Dan’s post – I learned a lot. The Great Salt Lake looks beautiful and rich in biodiversity! Ecosystems are sensitive to anthropogenic activities and their effects compounded over time can bring about profound impacts on wildlife, ecosystems and their functioning. Hope there will be more policy and collective actions to conserve this vital habitat!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I was actually surprised to learn about how much biodiversity exists in and around the Great Salt Lake. I would think that a salty lake wouldn’t support much life, but I guess organisms can adapt to almost any habitat.

      Effective water conservation policies are absolutely crucial for the American West, because more people keep moving there and climate change keeps drying out the region. The Colorado River, which is the primary water source for millions of people, is literally disappearing.

      Liked by 1 person

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