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, sometimes referred to as functions. Among these are water purification, water storage, processing of carbon and other nutrients, stabilization of shorelines, and support of plants and animals. Wetlands are also considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal life. Whether any individual wetland performs these functions, and the degree to which it performs them, depends on characteristics of that wetland and the lands and waters near it Methods (tools) for rapidly assessing these functions, wetland ecological health, and general wetland condition have been developed in many regions and have contributed to wetland conservation partly by raising public awareness of the functions and the ecosystem services some wetlands provide

Wetlands occur naturally on every continent. The main wetland types are swamp, marsh, bog, fen; sub-types include mangrove forest, carr, pocosin, floodplains., mire, vernal pool, sink, and many others. Many peatlands are wetlands. The water in wetlands is either freshwater, brackish, or saltwater. Wetlands can be tidal (inundated by tides) or non-tidal. 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.

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

Bayou Corne in Louisiana, October 2010
A bayou is a Franco-English term used in the United States for a body of water typically found in a flat, low-lying area, and can refer either to an extremely slow-moving stream or river (often with a poorly defined shoreline), or to a marshy lake or wetland. The name "bayou" can also refer to a creek whose current reverses daily due to tides and which contains brackish water highly conducive to fish life and plankton. Bayous are commonly found in the Gulf Coast region of the southern United States, notably the Mississippi River Delta, with the states of Louisiana and Texas being famous for them. A bayou is frequently an anabranch or minor braid of a braided channel that is moving much more slowly than the mainstem, often becoming boggy and stagnant. Though fauna varies by region, many bayous are home to crawfish, certain species of shrimp, other shellfish, catfish, frogs, toads, American alligators, American crocodiles, herons, turtles, spoonbills, snakes, leeches and myriad other species.

Bayou Country is most closely associated with Cajun and Creole cultural groups native to the Gulf Coast region generally stretching from Houston, Texas, to Mobile, Alabama, and picking back up in South Florida around the Everglades with its center in New Orleans.

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Did you know...

that wetlands can remove toxins from industrial discharges?
...that wetlands can remove toxins from industrial discharges?

(Pictured left: Floating lilies.)

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

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