A wetland space at Rock Run Protect. (Photograph courtesy of Kevin Kuchler)
Whereas it might appear simple to lump wetlands, marshes and swamps collectively, all of them have some distinctive traits.
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Wetlands are areas of land that hyperlink land and water, the place these two essential sorts of habitat meet to kind one more essential habitat. These areas of low-lying land are saturated with water, whether or not completely or seasonally, in line with the Nationwide Parks Service.
Wetlands exist everywhere in the United States and embrace swamps and marshes, in addition to bogs. Whereas these three sorts of wetlands could seem one and the identical, there are key variations that distinguish them.
Whereas some wetlands are all the time moist, it is not a requirement. Some wetlands are dry for lengthy stretches of the 12 months, however nonetheless are thought-about wetlands as a result of the water desk for the world is both at or close to the land, which permits aquatic vegetation to develop and thrive there. Each marshes and swamps can happen in areas with both contemporary water or saltwater.
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Whereas the presence of water is the primary similarity between marshes and swamps, the form of vegetation current within the space is the first distinction between them. Swamps are predominantly forested, whereas marshes have few if any bushes however are dwelling to grasses and herbaceous vegetation, together with annuals, perennials and biennials, in line with Nationwide Geographic.
Swamps are sometimes categorised by the predominant kind of tree rising there. For instance, there are hardwood swamps, cedar swamps and cypress swamps, in line with Nationwide Geographic. They’re discovered everywhere in the world, on each continent besides Antarctica.
Swamps are much like lowland forests, that are forests in low-lying areas close to water sources. The distinction between the 2 is that swamps often have deeper standing water and are moist for longer intervals of the 12 months, in line with the Nationwide Parks Service.
Marshes have wealthy, waterlogged soils that assist vegetation, in line with Nationwide Geographic. The vegetation that develop in marshes bind to the muddy soil, which slows the circulate of the water. There are three sorts of marshes: tidal freshwater marshes, tidal saltwater marshes and inland freshwater marshes. Tidal marshes are affected by the tides, though tidal freshwater marshes are additional inland from the coast and principally include contemporary water, with low saltwater content material.
The sorts of marshes we now have right here in Will County, which is situated removed from both coast, are inland marshes. These marshes are discovered alongside the perimeters of rivers and lakes. Probably the most well-known marsh in the US is an inland marsh — the Everglades. The large nationwide park — the third greatest in the US — is dwelling to 9 distinct sorts of habitat, together with marshes, in line with the Division of the Inside.
Many individuals suppose the Everglades is a swamp, however it’s not. Nonetheless, the Large Cypress Swamp, which incorporates greater than 700,000 acres of swamp land, is adjoining to the Everglades. Large Cypress, which is a nationwide protect, is essential to the well being of the Everglades.
Bogs are one more form of wetland. They’re completely different from marshes and swamps as a result of they’re extremely acidic and have low oxygen ranges, the Nationwide Parks Service stories. These circumstances develop as a result of natural matter accumulates quicker than it may decay.
Wetlands are necessary to the surroundings and ecosystems for a mess of causes. They enhance water high quality and water provide, present wildlife habitat, and improve the ecosystem’s biodiversity, in line with the Nationwide Parks Service. In lots of areas, wetlands are additionally essential for flood management, sustaining the circulate of rivers and streams and lowering erosion.
Within the 1700s, the US was dwelling to greater than 221 million acres of wetlands, however by 1990 greater than half had been destroyed by dumping, draining, filling and different human actions, the parks service stories. Due to their significance and significance, restoration of wetlands is going on in lots of areas of the nation, together with right here in Will County.
A number of Will County forest preserves embrace wetland habitats, and the Forest Protect District has a number of tasks in progress to revive or mitigate wetlands. In 2019, the District obtained an Excellence in Ecological Restoration Program accreditation from Chicago Wilderness for an intensive restoration challenge at Hadley Valley that included restoring wetlands and different habitats.
Keep up-to-date on the happenings in Will County’s forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital e-newsletter that gives subscribers with updates on Forest Protect information, upcoming occasions, and different enjoyable and helpful info for the entire household. In the event you’re solely fascinated by applications, subscribe to The Weekly 5, which outlines the 5 must-do applications every week. Signing up for both e-newsletter is simple and freed from cost.
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