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What are wetlands and aquatic habitats?

Wetlands are transitional areas, sandwiched between permanently flooded deepwater environments and well-drained uplands,  here the water table is usually at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water. They include mangroves, marshes (salt, brackish, intermediate, and fresh), swamps, forested wetlands, bogs, wet prairies, prairie potholes, and vernal pools. They often contain more plants and animals and produce more organic material than either the adjacent water or land areas. In general terms, wetlands are lands where saturation with water is the dominant factor determining the nature of soil development and the types of plant and animal communities living in the soil and on its surface. The single feature that most wetlands share is soil or substrate that is at least periodically saturated with or covered by water. The water creates severe physiological problems for all plants and animals except those that are adapted for life in water or in saturated soil.

Aquatic habitats include permanently flooded parts of estuaries and nearshore environments like seagrass beds, rivers, ponds, and lakes. In general terms, aquatic habitats are permanently flooded lands lying below the deepwater boundary of wetlands. Aquatic habitats include environments where surface water is permanent and often deep, so that water, rather than air, is the principal medium within which the dominant organisms live, whether or not they are attached to the substrate. Aquatic habitats are also critical to fish and wildlife as well as economically and recreationally valuable to humans.

Learn more:

National Wetlands Research Center: About Wetlands

Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center: Wetlands and Deepwater Habitats

Wetland Types

Tags: Fish, Amphibians, Ecosystems, Groundwater, Reptiles, Marsh, Wetlands, Water, Aquatic