“Wetlands are ecosystems that are characterized by waterlogged soils and the presence of hydric plants.”
Despite being often overlooked and undervalued in our society, a crucial role is played. By wetlands in maintaining a healthy and balanced ecosystem.
A diverse array of plant and animal species inhabit these unique habitats.
Both the environment and human populations are provided with multiple benefits.
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Why are Wetlands Important?
Wetlands are important features in the landscape that provide numerous beneficial services for people and for fish and wildlife.
Some of these services, or functions, include the protection and improvement of water quality. The provision of habitats for fish and wildlife.
The storage of floodwaters, and the maintenance of surface water flow during dry periods. These valuable functions are the result of the unique natural characteristics of wetlands.
Wetlands and Nature
Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, comparable to rain forests and coral reefs.
An immense variety of species of microbes, plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish and mammals can be part of a wetland ecosystem.
Climate, landscape shape (topology), geology and the movement and abundance of water help to determine the plants and animals that inhabit each wetland.
The complex, dynamic relationships among the organisms inhabiting the wetland environment are referred to as food webs. This is why wetlands in Texas, North Carolina and Alaska differ from one another.
Wetlands can be regarded as “biological supermarkets.” They provide great volumes of food that attract many animal species. These animals use wetlands for part of or all of their life-cycle. Dead plant leaves and stems break down in the water to form small particles of organic material called “detritus.”
This enriched material feeds many small aquatic insects, shellfish and small fish that are food for larger predatory fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals.
The functions of a wetland and the values of these functions to humans depend on a complex set of relationships.
Between the wetland and the other ecosystems in the watershed.
A watershed is a geographic area in which water, sediments and dissolved materials drain from higher elevations to a common low-lying outlet or basin a point on a larger stream, lake, underlying aquifer or estuary.
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The Significance of Wetlands
One of the most important roles of wetlands is their ability to act as natural water filters.
Wetlands are able to remove pollutants and excess nutrients from water, making it cleaner and safer for both human and animal consumption.
They also help to prevent flooding by absorbing and storing excess water, reducing the risk of damage to homes and infrastructure.
In addition to their water management capabilities, wetlands also serve as important habitats for a wide variety of plant and animal species.
Many species of birds, fish, and other wildlife rely on wetlands for their survival.
Even the loss of wetland habitats has led to some species, such as the American Bald Eagle, being listed as threatened or endangered.
Wetlands also play a critical role in carbon sequestration, the process of absorbing and storing carbon from the atmosphere.
Wetlands are able to store large amounts of carbon in their soil and vegetation, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.
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Despite their importance, wetlands are under threat from human development and land use changes.
Many wetlands have been drained or filled in for development or agriculture, leading to the loss of valuable habitats and ecosystem services.
In addition, climate change is causing sea levels to rise, which is threatening coastal wetlands and the communities that depend on them.
Natural buffers are provided by wetlands towards nutrients expelled from surrounding watersheds. But it has been shown that excess nutrients, mainly through anthropogenic sources, significantly increase. The N2O fluxes from wetland soils through denitrification and nitrification processes.
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Wetlands: A World Within A World, Wetlands: A World Within A World, Wetlands: A World Within A World