MENOMONIE, Wis. (AP) -

The University of Wisconsin-Stout is getting more than half a million dollars to study how wetlands in the Chippewa Valley are being affected by development.

The National Science Foundation is providing a $550,000 grant so researchers can study wetlands in west-central Wisconsin over the next five years.

The scientists will study how changes in the environment can affect plant and animal life in the area. Specifically they'll look at forested ephemeral ponds. Those are small seasonal wetland patches that occur within forest areas.

The research will take place in the Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area near the Ice Age Trail, and the Chippewa County Forest near New Auburn.

UW-Stout biology professor Amanda Little says she hopes conservation managers can use their research to figure out how to protect fragile ecosystems.