is a Wetland?
are all the Wetlands?
for the Future
may be obvious habitats such as freshwater marshes or lake edges;
more subtle habitats such as the winding miles of riverside wetlands;
and sometimes hard to find habitats, such as the ephemeral ponds
of forests, prairies, and glaciated valleys.
always freshwater habitats: You'll find saline wetlands around the
Great Salt Lake and other saline bodies of water. However, for the
purposes of our study, we'll discuss inland freshwater wetlands
in general, using many examples from the Intermountain West.
This vast region,
with its array of terrainrivers, valleys, mountains, and grasslandprovides
a living laboratory of inland wetlands. We'll focus on the two types
of inland habitats common in this region: riverine
wetlands differ from coastal/marine wetlands in water chemistry
and dynamics. They are not subject to tidal fluctuations or to the
extreme wave action of ocean storms. Thus, their vegetation can
be more stable, such as shrubs, or less anchored, such as floating
plants that have no roots in the sediment. For example, you'll often
find mats of duckweed on freshwater wetlands. These plants float
on the surface and their roots extend into the water but not down
to the sediment.
just like marine wetlands, serve as nurseries for aquatic animals
of all types including insects, muskrat, and trout. And they provide
essential habitat for myriad amphibians, birds, and mammals. In
addition, freshwater wetlands play an essential role in the availability
of water in the arid Intermountain West. By slowing floodwaters
or capturing snowmelt each season, inland wetlands retain the water,
which then can seep into the ground to recharge aquifers and other
sources of groundwater.
At the same time, the wetlands vegetation and sediment filter out
many pollutants from the water.
wetlands, such as sloughs associated with rivers, may appear the
same each year. The relatively stable climate of mountain valleys
allows vegetation in these wetlands to stabilize and reappear year
after year. Other inland wetlands, such as prairie potholes, may
seem to disappear for most of a decade, only to reappear during
wet years. Sometimes, you need to look for more subtle clues to
identify these types of wetlands because the dryness of the soil
or the present vegetation can be deceptive.
Find out more
about the types of inland wetlands we have near us: