This launches the American Wetlands Month Geo-Story in a new window.
  • A wetland is an area that is either covered by water or saturated with water for at least part of every year. Swamps, bogs, marshes, and tidelands are all wetlands.
     
    Wetlands are important ecosystems, because they include both aquatic and terrestrial habitats.
     
    Wetlands are wildly diverse. They exist in almost every climate, from the frozen tundra to the humid tropics. They exist as mountaintop bogs and low-lying tidal zones. The water in wetlands can be salty, freshwater, or brackish (a combination of the two).
     
    Can you think of different ways organisms might interact with wetland ecosystems? Read our 'Questions' to help you think about it, then click on the GeoStory to visit some wetlands across the United States. 
    1. Insects, such as flies, are found in nearly all wetlands. Why do you think insects are so important to wetland ecosystems?

      Insects are an important food source for many primary consumers in the wetland ecosystem food web. Primary consumers include birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles.

    2. Few plant species are native to saltwater and brackish wetland ecosystems. Why do you think only a few hardy plants can survive in those conditions?

      Few plant species can survive in such saline, or salty, environments.

    3. Many wetlands are threatened by human activity. Why do you think communities want to drain wetlands?

      Answers will vary! Communities drain wetlands for many reasons. Wetlands are often cleared for agricultural or industrial development, housing, or recreational activities.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    aquatic Adjective

    having to do with water.

    bog Noun

    wetland of soft ground made mostly of decaying plant matter.

    brackish water Noun

    salty water, usually a mixture of seawater and freshwater.

    climate Noun

    all weather conditions for a given location over a period of time.

    Encyclopedic Entry: climate
    ecosystem Noun

    community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.

    Encyclopedic Entry: ecosystem
    habitat Noun

    environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.

    Encyclopedic Entry: habitat
    humid Adjective

    air containing a large amount of water vapor.

    marsh Noun

    wetland area usually covered by a shallow layer of seawater or freshwater.

    Encyclopedic Entry: marsh
    noble gas Noun

    one of a group of elements appearing at the far right column of the periodic table of elements: helium (He), neon (Ne), argon (Ar), krypton (Kr), xenon (Xe), or radon (Rn). Also called an inert gas.

    noble gas Noun

    one of a group of elements appearing at the far right column of the periodic table of elements: helium (He), neon (Ne), argon (Ar), krypton (Kr), xenon (Xe), or radon (Rn). Also called an inert gas.

    saturate Verb

    to fill one substance with as much of another substance as it can take.

    swamp Noun

    land permanently saturated with water and sometimes covered with it.

    Encyclopedic Entry: swamp
    terrestrial Adjective

    having to do with the Earth or dry land.

    tidelands Noun

    intertidal zone. Region between the high tide and the low tide of an area.

    tropics Plural Noun

    region generally located between the Tropic of Cancer (23 1/2 degrees north of the Equator) and the Tropic of Capricorn (23 1/2 degrees south of the Equator).

    Encyclopedic Entry: tropics
    tundra Noun

    cold, treeless region in Arctic and Antarctic climates.

    wetland Noun

    area of land covered by shallow water or saturated by water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: wetland
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