Thursday, 02 June 2016 14:02

What is a Wetland?

Wetlands are identified based on wetland hydrology, wetland plant communities, and hydric soils. Wetland hydrology includes standing water, saturated soils or indicators of flooded or saturated conditions such as high water marks, matted or water stained leaves, and aquatic fauna. Wetland plant communities are evaluated based on the presence of plant species that are water dependent or prefer wet conditions. Wetland soils are identified based on:
1) organic soils such as peat, or
2) mineral soils having a low gleyed color, with or without mottling. Freshwater wetlands are also known as bogs, swamps, and marshes.

Shallow Sedge:

  • Reduce flooding by providing water storage
  • Provide groundwater recharge to maintain stream baseflow
  • Have important biogeochemical processes that control and regulate organic and nutrient transport
  • Remove pollutants through settling and storing suspended solids and sediments

Wetland Plants are uniquely adapted to their environment. Wetland plants are have developed adaptations to permit their roots to survive in the saturated soils have very low oxygen, called anoxia, resulting from the bacterial decomposition of plant material in the soil. Most plant roots obtain oxygen directly from the soil, but wetland plants must deliver oxygen to their roots by transporting air from their leaves through stems, and to their roots. Wetland plants have also altered their metabolic processes to allow for anaerobic respiration (living in a on oxygen environment) for periods of time. Anaerobic respiration normally produces toxins that would kill most plants. Wetland plants have specialized enzymes that can convert the toxins to less toxic forms and also have adapted the ability to release the toxins from their
Common Cattail:  roots to the surrounding soils where bacteria will use the toxins to grow.


  • Silky Dogwood
  • Steeplebush
  • Shallow sedge
  • Sensitive fern
  • Tall buttercup
  • Common cattail

Wetland Wildlife includes migratory waterfowl, song birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.


  • Beaver
  • Whistling swan
  • Muskrat
  • Red-winged blackbird
  • Swamp sparrow
  • Eastern painted turtle
  • Northern leapord frog
  • Red-spotted newt
  • Canada goose

* Official wetland delineations are based on the Army Corps of Engineers Wetland Manual and the wetlands are characterized by 3 components:

  • hydric soils
  • hydrology
  • wetland vegetation


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