The destruction of wetlands is a concern because they are some of the most productive habitats on the planet. In the United States the most extensive delta marshes are those of the Mississippi River. Swamps serve vital roles in flood protection and nutrient removal. Bogs are unique communities that can be destroyed in a matter of days but require hundreds, if not thousands, of years to form naturally. The Clapper Rail of the saltmarshes, which is more commonly heard than seen. Tidal marshes can be found along protected coastlines in middle and high latitudes worldwide. Swamps like Everglades in Florida are found in low-lying areas near rivers or coastal areas. Marshes are what come to mind for most people when they think of a wetland. Therefore, they are able to support a much more diverse plant and animal community. The Okavango Marshes east of the Kalahari desert in Botswana are perhaps the best example of marshes formed in an interior, closed basin that has no drainage. Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem. In addition to their considerable habitat value, non-tidal marshes serve to mitigate flood damage and filter excess nutrients from surface runoff. These perennial herbs typically flower in May and June, and each flower spike can contain up to 268,000 seeds. Some are freshwater marshes, others are brackish (somewhat salty), and still others are saline (salty), but they are all influenced by the motion of ocean tides. The result is a wetland ecosystem with a very specialized and unique flora and fauna that can grow in these conditions called acidophiles. Some fens are characterized by parallel ridges of vegetation separated by less productive hollows. They are often inundated with floodwater from nearby rivers and streams. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Their acreage declined historically as they were drained to be used as cropland and mined for their peat, which was used as a fuel and a soil conditioner. Fibrous-rooted grasses bind the muds together and further hinder water flow, thus encouraging the spread of both the delta and the marsh. They may have either considerable amounts of open water surrounded by floating vegetation or vegetation may have completely filled the lake (terrestrialization). Keep in mind that while some marshes may not have open water year-round, their soil is still saturated with water below the soil surface. There are many different kinds of swamps, ranging from the forested Red Maple, (Acer rubrum), swamps of the Northeast to the extensive bottomland hardwood forests found along the sluggish rivers of the Southeast. There are many different types of wetlands. This is an especially important function during periods of drought. Freshwater marshes are characterized by periodic or permanent shallow water, little or no peat deposition, and mineral soils. The area is an ideal marsh habitat, but the Everglades is different from usual marshes. Non-tidal marshes are the most prevalent and widely distributed wetlands in North America. Tidal marshes also provide vital food and habitat for clams, crabs and juvenile fish, as well as offering shelter and nesting sites for several species of migratory waterfowl. Endorheic…. Fens, like bogs, provide important benefits in a watershed, including preventing or reducing the risk of floods, improving water quality and providing habitat for unique plant and animal communities. They typically derive most of their water Highly organic, mineral rich soils of sand, silt, … Fens, like bogs, are peatlands, but because they are fed by groundwater they are not so acidic as bogs. Both marshes and … As a result, they are a haven for species adapted to living in unaltered forests. Pocosins are densely vegetated with trees and shrubs. These semiaquatic or aquatic plants feature pale gray-green leaves and cylindrical brown flower spikes growing on top of 3- to 10-foot-tall stems. Marshes, bogs, and swamps are typical wetlands. Because pocosins are found in broad, flat, upland areas far from large streams, they are ombrotrophic like northern bogs, meaning rain provides most of their water. These wetlands form a flat, grassy fringe near river mouths, in bays, and along coastlines. The distinction is often made based on the plants and animals that thrive in the area. Salt marshes, which are extensive along the east coast of the United States and are also common in the Arctic, northern Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, are formed by seawater flooding and draining, which exposes flat areas of intertidal land. Although there are many different wetland types, they can be divided into two broad categories: Some have been degraded by excessive deposits of nutrients and sediment from construction and farming. We have divided marshes into two primary categories: non-tidal and tidal. Common cattail is commonly found growing on the edges of freshwater marshes where the water is shallower. Legs and feet are black. As snow melted, the depressions supported the growth of temporary marshes, which then dried up during the summer. They can sustain a vast array of plant communities that in turn support a wide variety of wildlife within this vital wetland ecosystem. Highly organic, mineral rich soils of sand, silt, and clay underlie these wetlands, while lily pads, cattails (see photo), reeds and bulrushes provide excellent habitat for waterfowl and other small mammals, such as Red-winged Blackbirds, Great Blue Herons, otters and muskrats. The difference between them is the types of plant life they support. Water levels in these wetlands generally vary from a few inches to two or three feet, and some marshes, like prairie potholes, may periodically dry out completely. Navigate parenthood with the help of the Raising Curious Learners podcast. Wetlands_Content Page_Wetland types . Forested swamps are found throughout the United States. Bogs support some of the most interesting plants in the United States (like the carnivorous Sundew) and provide habitat to animals threatened by human encroachment. Wetlands are transitional lands between lands and other bodies of water. The Great Egret (Casmerodius albus) winters in the tidal marshes along the Gulf Coast. Exorheic regions are open systems in which surface waters ultimately drain to the ocean in well-defined patterns that involve streams and rivers temporarily impounded by permanent freshwater lakes. Bogs in the United States are mostly found in the glaciated northeast and Great Lakes regions (northern bogs) but also in the southeast (pocosins). Oregon has many wetland types that range from tidal salt marshes along the coast to fresh water marshes along streams and ponds, seasonal prairie and meadow wetlands in the valleys to mossy mountain fens. Like swamps, marshes are often divided into freshwater and saltwater categories. Marshes include tidal marshes along coastal waters, but the only tidal marshes included in this summary are tidal freshwater marshes (those with salinity less than 0.5 ppt). Moose, deer, and lynx are a few of the animals that can be found in northern bogs. Common Cattail (Typha latifolia) is a freshwater and estuarine marsh species. Nontidal marshes are mostly freshwater types, although saline marshes occur in arid and semiarid regions and in areas of land that were once ancient seas or lake beds. Swamps. Marshes are defined as wetlands frequently or continually inundated with water, characterized by emergent soft-stemmed vegetation adapted to saturated soil conditions. Tidal marshes are normally categorized into two distinct zones, the lower or intertidal marsh and the upper or high marsh. Both of the great basins named after these rivers have extensive wetlands. Carlisle Bog in Alaska. The Cowardin system is used by the U.S. Salt marshes are subject to rapid change, in ecological terms, due to the vagaries of extreme weather events and the behaviour of the sea. The soil is often water logged for much of the year and covered at times by as much as a few feet of water because this type of swamp is found along slow moving streams and in floodplains. Some of the more prominent types found in Wisconsin are listed below. This article was most recently revised and updated by, U.S Environmental Protection Agency - Marshes, marsh - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), marsh - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). These small marshes formed because the landscape left by the retreat of glacial ice was so irregular and so poorly drained that countless little depressions were filled with water each spring. Fens < > Marshes A marsh is possibly the most beloved of all wetlands. Other basins without outlets like that of the Great Salt Lake in Utah have accumulated too much salt for marsh growth. The word pocosin comes from the Algonquin Native American word for "swamp on a hill." Nutrients are plentiful and the pH is usually neutral leading to an abundance of plant and animal life. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The Cowardin system includes five major wetland types: marine, tidal, lacustrine, palustrine and riverine. This perception led to the vast devastation of immense tracts of swampland over the past 200 years, such as the destruction of more than half of the legendary Great Dismal Swamp of southeastern Virginia. This means that their soil can be saturated either permanently or seasonally. This bog in Nova Scotia, Canada is dominated by ericaceous dwarf-shrubs, a common family of plants in the peat bogs of the Northeast. Therefore, most bogs in the United States are found in the northern states. The sphagnum peats of northern bogs cause especially acidic waters. Marshes occur in the deltas of the Mekong in Vietnam and the Amazon in Brazil. Wetlands are ecosystems found on Earth that are covered with water for most of the year. Sphagnum itself may be up to 70 percent water. Consequently, these environments are especially critical for the maintenance of worldwide biological productivity.…, habitats include lakes, ponds, and marshes. As the tide flows out, this water drains away. Corrections? These evergreen shrub and tree dominated landscapes are found on the Atlantic Coastal Plain from Virginia to northern Florida; though, most are found in North Carolina. A swamp is any wetland dominated by woody plants. Swamps are home to variety of animals like snakes, bobcat, alligators, beaver, large diversity of birds. Pressure to fill in these wetlands for coastal development has led to significant and continuing losses of tidal marshes, especially along the Atlantic coast. Such environmental problems prove the vital roles these wetlands play. A wetland is a place where the land is covered by water, either salt, fresh or somewhere in between. Non-tidal marshes are the most prevalent and widely distributed wetlands in North America. Most such areas are drained someplace along their rim by a river that is impeded at that point sufficiently to dam water at times of high flow and create marshes and swamps. Button bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) is found only in shrub swamps. Omissions? Importance of Restoration. Marshes and swamps are wetlands, land forms with the trait of being saturated in water. Pocosins are also sources of valuable timber and fuel, but these uses can harm or destroy pocosins if they are not carried out responsibly. Another common wetland classification system, used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was developed by Brinson and is described in A Hydrogeomorphic Classification for Wetlands. Also like the bogs of the far north, pocosins are found on waterlogged, nutrient poor and acid soils. In the Middle East, both the Nile Delta and the delta of the Tigris–Euphrates have extensive marshes of historical importance. In saline tidal marshes, the lower marsh is normally covered and exposed daily by the tide. Tidal wetlands can be found along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and those rivers and streams that are influenced by the changing tide. The insects that pollinate it are attracted by its odor, which resembles decaying flesh. Unfortunately, like many other wetland ecosystems, freshwater marshes have suffered major acreage losses to human development. Some low-lying areas with poor drainage at the heads of more extensive drainage patterns contain wetlands. Some areas, such as the northern Great Plains of the United States, have so many small marshes that they are a characteristic of the landscape. Additionally, areas known as lagoons may also have salt marsh habitats around its borders. A longer hydroperiod along with increased water depths produces taller, thicker stands of sawgrass while a short hydroperiod and shallow waters result in limited growth. Historically, swamps have been portrayed as frightening no-man's-lands. In Europe well-known river-mouth marshes include those of the Camargue in the Rhône Delta, the Guadalquivir in Spain, and the Danube in Romania, all of which are famous as bird sanctuaries. Fish and Wildlife Service for the National Wetlands Inventory. Nevertheless, bogs support a number of species of plants in addition to the characteristic Sphagnum Moss, including Cotton Grass, Cranberry, Blueberry, Pine, Labrador Tea and Tamarack. Swamps may be divided into two major classes, depending on the type of vegetation present: shrub swamps and forested swamps. Bogs. Tidal marshes serve many important functions. Marshes and ponds, the edge of a lake or ocean, the delta at the mouth of a river, low-lying areas that frequently flood—all of these are wetlands. In this photograph, trees are invading an herbaceous fen. Over time, peat may build up and separate the fen from its groundwater supply. Classification of Wetlands and Deepwater Habitats of the United States, A Hydrogeomorphic Classification for Wetlands. It is predominantly covered by the tall form of Smooth Cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora). Grasses, grasslike sedges, and reeds or rushes are of major importance. A wide variety of wetlands have formed across the country due to regional and local differences in climate, geology, topography, hydrology, soils, vegetation, water chemistry, and other factors. These systems are often covered by grasses, sedges, rushes and wildflowers. Wetlands can form naturally or through animal or human activity. Tidal Freshwater Marsh. Groundwater recharge and discharge:Some wetlands recharge groundwater by holding surface water and allowing it to slowly filter into the groundwater reserves. There are 4 main types of Freshwater Wetlands in North America; Ponds, Marshes, Swamps, and Peat bogs.. A Pond is a well defined basin that is filled with stagnant water and ringed by vegetation. and Swamp Rose (Rosa palustris) predominates. Bogs serve an important ecological function in preventing downstream flooding by absorbing precipitation. Home » Topic » Wetlands; Wetland types. In very dry years they may represent the only shallow water for miles and their presence is critical to the survival of wetland-dependent species like Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa), River Otters (Lutra canadensis) and Cottonmouth Snakes (Agkistrodon piscivorus). A marsh is a type of wetland with soil that is rich in minerals. Breadcrumb. Swamps are characterized by saturated soils during the growing season and standing water during certain times of the year. Showy Lady Slipper, Cypripedium reginae, is an example of a unique plant that thrives in fens. Marshes are also common in deltas, where rivers empty into a larger body of water. Marshes occur in the deltas of most of the world’s great rivers. Northern bogs often form in old glacial lakes. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. and Western Hemlock (Tsuga sp.) Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Both of these factors greatly influence the range and scope of animal and plant life that can survive and reproduce in these environments. Fortunately, most states have enacted special laws to protect tidal marshes, but diligence is needed to assure that these protective measures are actively enforced. Floodplain forests are especially high in productivity and species diversity because of the rich deposits of alluvial soil from floods. Like bogs, fens are mostly a northern hemisphere phenomenon -- occurring in the northeastern United States, the Great Lakes region, the Rocky Mountains and much of Canada -- and are generally associated with low temperatures and short growing seasons, where ample precipitation and high humidity cause excessive moisture to accumulate. The world’s two largest rivers, the Amazon and the Congo, fall into this category. The Sweet Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia rubra) is one of the carnivorous plants found in pocosins. Fens, are peat-forming wetlands that receive nutrients from sources other than precipitation: usually from upslope sources through drainage from surrounding mineral soils and from groundwater movement. Common cattails (Typha latifolia), sometimes called North American cattails, are a common type of marsh grass. Shrub swamps are similar to forested swamps except that shrubby vegetation such as Buttonbush, Willow, Dogwood (Cornus sp.) The Everglades is similar to a huge, shallow, slowly flowing river. Marshes, swamps, and bogs are all types of wetlands. Northern bogs are generally associated with low temperatures and short growing seasons where ample precipitation and high humidity cause excessive moisture to accumulate. Some swamps are dominated by shrubs, such as Buttonbush or Smooth Alder. Pollution, especially near urban areas, also remains a serious threat to these ecosystems. The presence of marshes in a watershed helps to reduce damage caused by floods by slowing and storing flood water. The saline marsh is covered by water only sporadically and is characterized by Short Smooth Cordgrass, Spike Grass and Saltmeadow Rush (Juncus gerardii). They frequently occur along streams in poorly drained depressions and in the shallow water along the boundaries of lakes, ponds and rivers. Bogs are one of North America's most distinctive kinds of wetlands. The plants that grow in this area generally have soft stems and are particularly adapted to these wet conditions. Due to the nutrient-rich soils present in swamps, many of these fertile woodlands have been drained and cleared for agriculture and other development. Marshes North and south of the tropics, swamps give way to marshes. Both habitats are linked into drainage systems of three major sorts: exorheic, endorheic, and arheic. As more and more land is developed in the Eastern United States, pocosins are becoming ever more valuable refuges for wildlife. Forested wetlands differ from true swamps in that they lack continuously standing water, although repeated flooding is common. There are two main types of swamps: forested swamps and shrub swamps. Tidal marsh along the Edisto River, South Carolina. Learn about freshwater and salt marshes. Differences in the length of inundation give rise to a variety of community types within this classification. As the tide flows in, these wetlands are flooded with water. The combination of water supplied steadily at a low rate over a waterlogged but rich soil creates a perfect environment for marsh grasses. The Florida Everglades constitutes a unique marsh–swamp combination growing on a limestone base. Prothonotary Warblers (Protonotaria citrea) are found in southern swamplands. In fact, forested and shrub swamps are often found adjacent to one another. The marsh dwellers of the Iranian marshes have developed a unique culture adapted to life in the wetlands. It is important to recognize that while mining and draining these ecosystems provide resources for people, up to 10,000 years are required to form a fen naturally. Four Types of Freshwater Wetlands. Many are alternately flooded and exposed by the movement of tides. The gradient of the river approaches zero at the sea, where flow is sluggish. The number of plant species in marshes is few compared with those that grow on well-watered but not waterlogged land. Larger depressions were occupied by ponds. A marsh is a type of wetland that is often submerged in water. The extent and abundance of these critically imperiled (S1) wetlands, which include Inland Salt Marsh, Lakeplain Wet-mesic Prairie, and Lakeplain Wet Prairie, have been drastically reduced due to exploitation, urban development, and agriculture in southern Lower Michigan. They are mostly freshwater marshes, although some are brackish or alkaline. In Classification of Wetlands and Deepwater Habitats of the United States (1979), the USFWS presented a hierarchical system based on five ecosystem types: marine, estuarine, riverine, lacustrine, and palustrine. Although all are waterlogged and dominated by herbaceous plants, they each have unique ecosystems. They are characterized by spongy peat deposits, acidic waters and a floor covered by a thick carpet of sphagnum moss. Tail is relatively short and dark-barred. U.S. state agencies also may intentionally flood dry areas to encourage wetland formation to host wetland-dependent species. Common causes of natural wetlands include: In addition, wetlands might form when beavers dam a river or stream. This realization has spurred enhanced protection and restoration of marsh ecosystems, such as the prairie potholes and the Everglades. These values correspond to nearly 30 tons per acre per year and are equal to the highest values that have been achieved in agriculture. Marshes recharge groundwater supplies and moderate streamflow by providing water to streams. Vernal Pools. Wetland types. Fens differ from bogs because they are less acidic and have higher nutrient levels. In aquatic environments, the highest net productivity occurs in estuaries, algal beds, and reefs. The soil itself is a mixture of peat and sand containing large amounts of charcoal from periodic burnings. The Greater Sandhill Crane, the Sora Rail, and the Great Gray Owl depend on bogs for survival. Tidal Wetlands. Salt marsh grasses will not grow on permanently flooded flats; growth is also prevented where the flooded land is subject to strong currents and is therefore unstable. Due to their high levels of nutrients, freshwater marshes are one of the most productive ecosystems on earth. Bogs receive all or most of their water from precipitation rather than from runoff, groundwater or streams. All types receive most of their water from surface water, and many marshes are also fed by groundwater.
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