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What Are 'Wetlands'?

Wetlands are simply areas of land that are wet either above the ground or just below the surface. Swamps, bogs and marshes are three types of wetlands. They can be found all over the world, except in desert areas.

Marshes are formed near ponds and lakes. Reeds, which are really tall grasslike plants and other soft-stemmed plants grow there.

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Swamps have more trees and woody-stemmed bush plants. Sometimes it gets so thick that you can barely walk through the swampy areas.

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Bogs begin as shallow ponds that slowly fill with rotting leaves and plants over a period of time. Eventually, moss and other plants grow from the shore and stretch out across the surface of the bog, forming a thick, spongy mat.

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Wetland scientists look for three things when identifying a wetland: water, special soil, and hydrophytes (water loving plants).

Water

Wetlands need to be covered with water only 2 weeks during the growing season (spring through fall). Although most wetlands have water more often. Wetlands may be next to streams, lakes, or isolated wet places. They also occur near the beach where the tide crosses it twice each day.

Soil

Wetland soil is special because it is often soaked with water. The water fills up the spaces between the soil so no oxygen can fit. This is called anaerobic (lacks oxygen) soil. Wetland soil has specific colors because of the chemical reactions. Special bacteria live in wetland soil to decompose plants without the use of oxygen. This process causes the "swamp gas" smell that is characteristic of wetlands.

Plants

Wetland plants are adapted to living with wet feet. They are called hydrophytes (water loving plants). Many of these plants are called emergent plants. They are growing right out of standing water. These plants are adapted to passing oxygen through their leaves into their roots. Plants in marshes near the Puget Sound are adapted to grow in salt water.

Wetlands are important!

  • Wetlands are habitat and nurseries for many animals and birds.
  • Wetlands provide food for people and animals.
  • Wetlands act like sponges to soak up floods and dirty water from run-off.
  • Wetlands replenish the aquifer.
  • Wetlands clean water by filtering out pollution.

Wetlands »
Terrarium »
Water Cycle »
Groundwater »


Board Meeting: Sept 26, 2017, 9:30am

Board Meetings are held every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month at 9:30am. The meetings are held at our offices and are open to the public. For Minutes and Agendas from previous Board Meetings, visit our Archives
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