Portal:Wetlands

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Wetlands Portal

Wetlands

Freshwater swamp forest in Bangladesh

A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is inundated by water, either permanently or seasonally, where oxygen-free processes prevail. 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. The main wetland types are swamp, marsh, bog, fen, and peatland; sub-types include mangrove forest, carr, and pocosin, and floodplain. The water in wetlands is either freshwater, brackish, or saltwater. The largest wetlands include the Amazon River basin, the West Siberian Plain, the Pantanal in South America, and the Sundarbans in the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta.

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 are used to treat municipal and industrial wastewater as well as stormwater runoff. They may also play a role in water-sensitive urban design.

Selected article

The flower of Nymphaea alba, a species of water lily
Aquatic plants are plants that have adapted to living in aquatic environments (saltwater or freshwater). They are also referred to as hydrophytes or macrophytes. These plants require special adaptations for living submerged in water, or at the water's surface. The most common adaptation is aerenchyma, but floating leaves and finely dissected leaves are also common. Aquatic plants can only grow in water or in soil that is permanently saturated with water. They are therefore a common component of wetlands.

The principal factor controlling the distribution of aquatic plants is the depth and duration of flooding. However, other factors may also control their distribution, abundance, and growth form, including nutrients, disturbance from waves, grazing, and salinity.

Aquatic vascular plants have originated on multiple occasions in different plant families; they can be ferns or angiosperms (including both monocots and dicots). Seaweeds are not vascular plants; rather they are multicellular marine algae, and therefore are not typically included among aquatic plants. A few aquatic plants are able to survive in brackish, saline, and salt water. Examples are found in genera such as Thalassia and Zostera. Although most aquatic plants can reproduce by flowering and setting seed, many also have extensive asexual reproduction by means of rhizomes, turions, and fragments in general.

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Guelta
Credit: The original uploader was User:Taguelmoust at French Wikipedia.

Guelta.

Did you know...

that bogs get water from rain while fens get water from the ground?
...that bogs get water from rain while fens get water from the ground?

(Pictured left: Avaste Fen in Estonia.)

Other "Did you know" facts... Read more...

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