Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Types of Wetlands
Inland Wetlands
 
    Palustrine are inland swamps, bogs, marshes, wet prairies, fens, or ponds. They are fresh water or have very low salinity and are usualy forested or have low scrub bushes. Palustrine swamps can be further divided by dominant plant type such as cypress swamps, peat bogs, lichen wetlands, needle-leaved evergreen wetlands, and hemlock wetlands. An example of some trees that grow in swamps are: blad cyrpress ( Taxodium distichum), water gum (Nyssa aquatica), and water locust (Gleditsia aquatica). Some wetland shrubs include: buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), red mangrove ( Rhizophora mangle), and swamp rose (Rosa palustris).
 
    Palustrine wetlands also support a large animal and fish populations. The wetland ecosystem includes blue herons (Adea herodias), fish such as the amozonian discus (Symphysodon discus), wood frogs (Rana sylvatica), alligator snapping turtles (Macroclemys temmincki),and mangrove water snakes (Nerodia fasciata compressicauda).  The ecosystem of the wetlands while rather diverse is also fragile. The slightest human disturbance or large storm can hurt the environment.
Coastal Wetlands

Mangrove Swamps
 
    These are found along tropical and subtropical coastlines. A collection of haolphytic trees, shrubs, and other plants grow in salt water. If you were to enter into a mangrove swamp, it would look much like a maze of woody vegetation and peat. The most dominant region for mangrove swamps is the Indo-West Pacific region. There are 30 to 40 different species of mangrove found in this region compared to a mere ten in the United States.

 
    The intertidal areas of soft sediment are often colonized by mangrove trees. These mangrove trees get the air that they need from their above ground root system. These root systems trap sediment. This system supports a rich diversity of life. Microscopic algae grow on the surface of the roots of mangroves. Crabs and shrimp are abundant, as are clams and snails.

Salt Marshes

 
 
     Salt marshes, like mangrove swamps, are found along intertidal shores. However, these wetland systems occur only in middle and high latitudes. Salt marshes are dominated by salt-tolerant grasses. Salt marshes rank among the most productive ecosystems in the world.
 
    The salt marsh forms an important interface between terrestial and marine habitats. Plants that colonize along shore in the calm water slow down the current and allow more silt to accumulate.
 
    The Atlantic coast of North America has over 2,300 square miles of salt marshes dominaed by the grass Spartina. There is only a small portion of salt marsh vegetation that is consumed directly by animals. The rest of the plants decay and become suspended as fine particles. The plants nutrients are recycled within the marsh. Salt marshes are important habitats for oysters, shrimp, crabs, flatfish, and mullet.

Freshwater Tidal Marshes

    This category includes freshwater marshes close enough to the coasts to experience significant influence from the tides, but far enough upstream to lack the salinity of a salt marsh. Thes systems are similar to salt marshes, but have a greater diversity of life because there is not a constant problem of silt build up to be dealt with. The plant diversity is very high and more birds frequent these marshes more often than any other coastal wetland type.

    Human development has hurt these marshes as the marshes are often at the most optimal site for development. An example would be the freshwater tidal marshes surrounding the Chesapeake Bay because in the past decades they have been stress by the development of a once rural area.

Seaweed Based Systems

    Seaweed based systems are made of seaweed. There are several types of seaweed: giant kelp, rockwed, and kelp. Giant kelp is rather large (hence the name) measuring up to 130 feet in length. These are harvested for substances used in food processing. Giant kelp beds are a home to a variety of invertebrates and fish. Kelp extends only 3 to 4 feet in length, but their beds are also home to a diversity of species. One of the most common inhabitants of kelp beds is the Atlantic lobster. Rockweed grows between high- and low-tide marks, or intertidal zones, on rocky shores. The only organisms that live here are those which can attach themselves firmly to the rocks. Barnacles, limpets, periwinkles, and mussels just name a few.

Sea Grass Beds

 
    These wetland systems are found just below the low tide mark. Most plant material that is produced is decomposed by fungi and bacteria. Sea grass beds slow the flow of water, which allows silt to deposit. The sea grass beds allow organisms to be sheltered from their predators and because of this shelter, many fish lay eggs in the sea grass beds so that their offspring can take advantage of this shelter.

    Manatees and dugongs feed on sea grasses. Green turtles compete with the dugongs for sea grass as food. Other species that may habitat sea grass beds include worms and clams, who burrow in the silt.