Wetlands

January 18 , 2005

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The Five Subsystems of Wetlands

MARINE WETLANDS
Saltwater wetlands along coasts.
Water levels rise and fall with the daily tides; can be subject to the force of waves and storms, and to ocean currents. Characteristics of marine wetlands vary with the level of tidal, wave, and current affects. Salt-tolerant plants called halophytes are dominant. Common halophytes include grasses such as the Spartina species. Subtidal marine wetlands are submerged continuously; intertidal marine wetlands are periodically exposed.

ESTUARINE WETLANDS
Coastal wetlands within estuaries (where fresh & salt water mix).
Estuarine wetlands usually have some access to oceans, with significant inflows of freshwater. Water levels rise and fall with the daily tides; can be subject to the force of waves and storms. Characteristics vary with the level of tidal, wave, and amount of salinity, which can vary with location and interactions with oceans and freshwater sources. Salt-tolerant plants called halophytes are dominant. Common halophytes include grasses such as the Spartina species. Subtidal estuarine wetlands are submerged continuously; intertidal estuarine wetlands are periodically exposed. Mangrove swamps are considered estuarine wetlands. The mangrove trees feature distinctive roots known as prop roots, which at low tide look like intricate lacework of branches reaching into the water. When exposed, prop roots absorb oxygen from the atmosphere. Mangrove seeds disperse by floating, and can live more than one hundred days.

RIVERINE WETLANDS
Wetlands in the channels of rivers and streams.
They may develop upstream where the water velocity is faster and the dominant bottom surface is rocky; these riverine wetlands feature animals associated with fast-moving water, such as caddisflies. Riverine wetlands also form along slower-moving streams and rivers; their bottom is often muddy, and they support more vegetation and animals adapted to slow-moving water. Riverine wetlands are part of the riparian, or streamside, habitat. Riverine wetlands are usually inland wetlands.

LACUSTRINE
Wetlands around lakes and reservoirs.
These freshwater wetlands form around the perimeter of lakes and reservoirs. They are larger than 20 acres or contain water depths in excess of 6 feet. Like marine and estuarine wetlands, lacustrine wetlands are exposed to wave action.

PALUSTRINE
Isolated, inland wetlands not associated with lakes or reservoirs. Smaller and shallower than lacustrine wetlands, palustrine wetlands include wet meadows, bogs, potholes, and playas.

Find out what species live in wetlands ...

Identifying Wetlands |
Marking Wetlands |
What Lives in Wetlands |
Why Do We Need Wetlands?
|

Types of Wetlands |

Common Names of Wetlands |
Five Subsystems of Wetlands |

What is a Wetland? | Where are all the Wetlands? |
Inland Wetlands | Wetlands for the Future | People and Wetlands |
Classroom Activities | Wetland Facts | Wetland Links |

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