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Wetlands Portal


A wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, such that it takes on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem. The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other land forms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to the unique hydric soil. Wetlands play a number of roles in the environment, principally water purification, flood control, carbon sink and shoreline stability. Wetlands are also considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal life. Wetlands occur naturally on every continent except Antarctica, the largest including the Amazon River basin, the West Siberian Plain, and the Pantanal in South America. The water found in wetlands can be freshwater, brackish, or saltwater. The main wetland types include swamps, marshes, bogs, and fens; and sub-types include mangrove, carr, pocosin, and varzea.

The UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment determined that environmental degradation is more prominent within wetland systems than any other ecosystem on Earth. International conservation efforts are being used in conjunction with the development of rapid assessment tools to inform people about wetland issues.

Constructed wetlands can be used to treat municipal and industrial wastewater as well as stormwater runoff and they also play a role in water-sensitive urban design.

Selected article

An interdunal wetland in wooded dunes, at Miller Woods in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
An interdunal wetland in wooded dunes, at Miller Woods in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
An interdunal wetland or interdunal pond is a water-filled depression between coastal sand dunes. It may be formed either by wind erosion or by dunal encroachment on an existing wetland.

The Indiana Dunes contain interdunal wetlands. Many conservation efforts have been made to preserve parts of the Indiana Dunes.

Because they are typically very shallow, interdunal wetlands warm quickly, and provide an abundant source of invertebrates eaten by many species of shorebirds. Many interdunal wetlands are ephemeral, drying out during periods of low rain or low water.

In the Great Lakes region of North America, interdunal communities are typically mildly calcareous and dominated by rushes, sedges and shrubs. They are tentatively classified as G2, or globally imperiled, under the NatureServe rankings.

A distinction is sometimes made between interdunal and intradunal wetlands such as pannes, which form within a single dune as part of a blowout. (Full article...)

General images

The following are images from various wetland-related articles on Wikipedia.


Selected picture

Alligator and python struggle in Everglades National Park.
Credit: Lori Oberhofer, National Park Service

Did you know...

that many wetland species are unique due to their long isolation?
... that many wetland species are unique due to their long isolation?

(Pictured left: A grayling found only in Lake Baikal.)

Other "Did you know" facts...


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