The Lakeshore Nature Preserve supports several biological communities. Each community is a combination of plants and animals. The plant community determines what type of animal community will occur. The Preserve plant communities and their quality are heavily influenced by their history of human use that has ranged from farming to restoration. Each segment of the Preserve has a different history of use. Two important communities in the Preserve are the marsh community (University Bay and Picnic Point Marsh) and the woodland community (examples include Eagle Heights Woods, Muir Woods, and Bill’s Woods).
For over one hundred years students and researchers have studied the plants and animals of the Preserve. The highly modified University Bay ecosystem is probably one of the most studied ecosystems in the United States. Through the years multiple “improvements” and restoration projects have influenced the Preserve plant communities including John Curtis’s restoration of the ground story of Muir Woods and Jim Zimmerman’s restoration of a section of reclaimed cornfield into the Class of 1918 Marsh. Today students and researchers are working to reestablish a prairie community in the old field area at the Biocore Prairie.