Wetlands

  • Important for habitat and food for many plant and wildlife species
  • Support both aquatic and terrestrial species
  • Absorb and slow floodwaters
  • Enhance water quality
  • Dramatic loss due to natural changes and human activity

Habitat Description: Wetlands

Wetlands are the links between land and water. They are areas where water covers the soil or is
present near the surface all year or for varying periods of time, particularly during the growing
season. Wetlands in the United States are classified as marshes, swamps, bogs and fens.

They all provide habitat for thousands of plant and animal species. More than one-third of the
country’s threatened and endangered species live only in wetlands. Estuarine and marine fish
and shellfish; and certain birds and mammals need coastal wetlands to survive. Wetlands provide
numerous other benefits such as improving water quality, storing floodwater and increasing
biological productivity. Water storage in wetlands can significantly reduce the risk of costly
property damage and threats to safety.

More than half of the country’s wetlands have been drained or converted to other uses. Wetlands
have historically been threatened by large-scale draining for real estate development or flooding
for use as recreational lakes. Changes to water quality and flow rates; increases in pollutant use;
and the introduction of nonnative plant species have adversely affected wetlands. People can
participate in conservation efforts by restoring wetlands on personal property; supporting local
watershed protection; and reducing the amount of fertilizers and pesticides used on landscapes.

Other Publications

Types of Wetlands (PDF)
Environmental Protection Agency

Wetlands differ due to topography, soil type, climate, water chemistry, vegetation, and human disturbance. There are four general categories of wetlands in the U.S.: marshes, bogs, fens, and swamps. This publication discusses each category.

 

Economic Benefits of Wetlands (PDF)
Environmental Protection Agency

Wetlands contribute to the economy by producing resources, providing recreational opportunities, controlling pollution and providing protection from floods. This publication discusses the economic benefits to local and national economies provided by wetland habitats.

 

Threats to Wetlands (PDF)
Environmental Protection Agency

Wetlands have declined in 22 states by as much as 50%. This has had effects on bird populations, water quality, flood protection, and more. This publication discusses the causes of wetland loss, the rate of decline, and what you can do to help.

 

Wetland Restoration (PDF)
Environmental Protection Agency

Wetland restoration involves renewing natural and historical wetlands that have been lost or degraded. This publication discusses why and how to restore wetlands as well as features a success story.

 

Understanding Wetlands and Endangered Species: Definitions and Relationships (PDF)
Alabama Cooperative Extension System

Wetlands provide food, cover and nesting grounds for many species. This publication explains what wetlands are, which animals live in wetlands, what endangered and threatened species are, why wetlands are threatened and the effect declining wetlands will have on the wildlife that depends on them. A chart of endangered and threatened species associated with wetlands is also provided.

 

Functions and Values of Wetlands in Louisiana (PDF)
Louisiana Ag Center Research and Extension

This publication takes an in depth look at wetlands including a detailed definition of wetlands, the factors that contribute to the decline in wetlands, why it is important to save them and the types and functions of wetlands. It also discusses storm, flood and erosion control. The publication also describes the importance of wetlands to humans, including business and commerce, recreation, and education.