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Wetlands. Florida’s Diverse Wetlands Historically, wetlands were viewed as hostile and nasty - “swamp,” “quagmire,” “fen” - portrayed as mosquito- and.

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Presentation on theme: "Wetlands. Florida’s Diverse Wetlands Historically, wetlands were viewed as hostile and nasty - “swamp,” “quagmire,” “fen” - portrayed as mosquito- and."— Presentation transcript:

1 Wetlands

2 Florida’s Diverse Wetlands Historically, wetlands were viewed as hostile and nasty - “swamp,” “quagmire,” “fen” - portrayed as mosquito- and snake-infested wildernesses that can swallow unwary travelers Before European settlement, most of Florida was wetlands

3 Florida’s Diverse Wetlands Soil is permanently or frequently wet Plants must be specially adapted – if the soil is saturated, oxygen can’t get to the roots - upland plant roots will rot Thus, wetlands can be recognized or defined by their plant species.

4 Florida’s Diverse Wetlands Types of wetland: 1.Marsh – dominated by grasses and forbs (low plants) 2.Shrub bogs – dominated by low woody plants 3.Swamps – wetlands with trees

5 Marsh Shrub bog Swamp

6 Florida’s Diverse Wetlands Factors that affect the type of wetland: topography – the lay of the land hydroperiod – when and how often it floods, and how deep the water gets fire frequency – marshes often burn, swamps almost never

7 Florida’s Diverse Wetlands Wetland delineation: Wetlands in FL and elsewhere are protected by law, since they are such a vital part of the ecosystem. People can be trained in wetland delineation, so that they can legally define what is or isn’t a wetland.

8 Florida’s Diverse Wetlands Wetland delineation: Just because the land is currently dry doesn’t mean that it’s not a wetland. Professionals look for: 1. hydric soils 2.signs of water in the recent past 3.plants that only grow in wetlands – obligate wetland plants


10 Benefits of wetlands 1.Purifying water As water flows from upland towards lakes and rivers, the wetland plants capture contaminants and take them up into the plant structures Wetlands also remove and recapture nutrients in the water, so that they don’t all flow away

11 Benefits of wetlands 2.Water capture Basin wetlands capture rainwater and give it a chance to seep back into the ground, recharging the aquifer The Green Swamp

12 Benefits of wetlands 3.Water slowing Floodplain wetlands slow down floodwaters and thus make flood less extreme 10% wetland leads to 60% flood reduction; 20% wetlands can mean up to 90% flood reduction Wetlands are like sponges – soak up water when there is too much, release it slowly during a drought

13 Benefits of wetlands 4.Climate control Organic material (peat and muck) builds up under wetlands; this keeps carbon out of the atmosphere Wetlands also add to the humidity of an area

14 Benefits of wetlands 5.Productivity Wetlands turn sunlight into plant material at a high rate; that material is then available to feed other organisms “wetlands generate wildlife”

15 Wetland Types Two we will cover (there are more): 1.Seepage wetlands – water flows across them from a shallow aquifer 2.Still-water marshes – water is not flowing, or flows very slowly

16 Seepage Wetlands Water from the ground flows down a gentle slope Water is nutrient-poor and very acidic A seepage wetland could be a marsh, shrub bog, or swamp, or a series of all three Fire is needed to keep a marsh from turning into a shrub bog

17 Seepage Wetlands Water will only flow across the surface if there is an impermeable layer (hardpan) underneath Because of the gradual change in moisture levels, seepage herb bogs (marshes) are extremely diverse in plant species There are also many rare species (Panhandle Lily)


19 Seepage Wetlands Because conditions are nutrient-poor and acidic, only plants that are specially-adapted to seepage wetlands will survive “Normal” plants will be stunted Being carnivorous is a adaptation that allows plants to thrive in seepage bogs


21 Seepage Wetlands Pine Barrens Tree Frog Only exist in three sites: FL panhandle, Carolinas, and Pine Barrens of NJ Eggs can only develop in cold (68-72 o ), clear, acidic puddles

22 Seepage Wetlands Besides seepage bogs (marshes), other seepage wetlands include: 1.Seepage shrub bogs 2.Seepage bay swamps 3.Seepage white-cedar swamps These all could exist downslope of the seepage marsh

23 Seepage Wetlands Seepage shrub bogs thick, shady, no groundcover diversity is low small, glossy, leathery leaves to help them cope with periods of drought infrequent hot crown fires dense thickets provide good cover for mammals like bear and deer


25 Seepage Wetlands Seepage bay swamps trees growing in saturated peat mostly sweetbay, loblolly bay, and swamp bay again, leaves are thick and glossy to withstand drought; shade is thick fires only occur 1-2X per century


27 Seepage Wetlands Seepage white-cedar swamp a rare habitat white cedar is very disease-resistant, grows slowly, but can grow 100 ft tall and can live for 200+ years a few huge ones can reach 15 ft diameter these swamps often harbor plants that are typically found farther north


29 Stillwater Marshes Much of Florida is flat; water will pool in these spots whenever rainfall exceeds evapotranspiration In some cases, water flows very slowly through a wetland; some of these wetlands will also be mentioned here

30 Stillwater Marshes The key characteristic of a stillwater marsh is that water rises and falls with the seasons the hydroperiod of each marsh is different marshes that actually become dry for part of the year can be invaded by trees; they will need fire to keep open

31 Stillwater Marshes Plants from seepage wetlands never dry out, but stillwater marsh plants have to cope with a dry period thick, shallow roots crowd out woody plants and allow marsh plants to die back in dry season adaptations to keep leaves/flowers above water can burn even over standing water

32 Stillwater Marshes The types of plants found in a marsh depend on its hydroperiod if a marsh is flooded for 70% of the year, you will find different plants than if it is flooded for 95% marsh plant species don’t vary much between north and south FL

33 Stillwater Marshes Periphyton: microscopic algae that coat every underwater surface in a marsh basis for marsh food chain close to 300 microscopic species eat the periphyton, and then become prey for larger species insects and other invertebrates, frogs, salamanders, snakes, turtles key habitat for wading and water birds, especially in winter


35 Stillwater Marshes Wood stork: federally endangered bird dropping water levels trigger nesting if water drops too much or not enough, they won’t be able to raise chicks successfully also need large, sturdy trees for nests

36 Stillwater Marshes Types: 1.Depression or basin marshes 2.Wet flats 3.Marl prairies 4.Swales and Sloughs

37 Stillwater Marshes Depression or basin marshes water pools in a shallow depression dry for part of the year – temporary or ephemeral wetland no fish, so critters that lay eggs in water depend on these wetlands for reproduction different species breed in different seasons

38 Depression Marsh

39 Stillwater Marshes Wet flats broad, flat, wet areas diverse, b/c of small changes in elevation/wetness burrowing crayfish (up to 20 species) are considered to be keystone species turn up soil so seeds can germinate small burrows are home to many small animals

40 Stillwater Marshes Marl Prairies only in south FL marl is a soil made of periphyton and calcium carbonate; crumbly and very alkaline only specific plants can live there – it’s difficult to tolerate the low nutrients and high alkalinity

41 Stillwater Marshes Swales and Sloughs not truly stillwater; water flows very slowly a swale is a “depression between ridges” a slough is a channel of deeper water in a wetland technically, the Everglades is a vast swale

42 Snail kite and Swallow-tailed Kite

43 Invasive: Melaleuca or Punktree

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