When most people think of wetlands the first thing that will pop into their mind will be visions of swamps and flooded plains. These marshy lands would seem to have no purpose, while in reality they are the most precious form of ecosystem that we have in America. Wetlands contribute to biodiversity, clean water, flood control, and provide a habitat for millions of species of plants and animals. Even with all this wetlands still face mass destruction, much like the rain forests they are just as productive and face similar rates of devastation (Mitchell, J. (1992, October). "Our Disappearing Wetlands" National Geographic, Pg 15).
It really is hard to get someone passionate about a mosquito-infested piece of swamp that seems just to be there to take up space and look bad. This is why wetlands are not backed by too many people to prevent their destruction. The main causes of wetland devastation are all linked to man. Pollution, construction, and farming are what is destroying 300,000 acres of wetlands each year (David Allen, J 1995 Pg. 24). Pollution is one of the most potent forms of destruction in that a small amount can cause such damage to a wide variety to plants and wildlife. Construction is another threat because as the population grows the demand for affordable housing goes up. Also with a rise in population comes a demand for food, which leads the to last and most destructive threat to wetlands, farming. Farming is all the threats to wetlands rolled into one; it builds over hundreds of acres of land and pollutes it with fertilizers and herbicides.
There are many misconceptions about wetlands that the public has due to the fact that there is not much public interest to save the wetlands. Well what exactly is a wetland? A lowland area, such as a marsh or swamp, that is saturated with moisture, especially when regarded as the natural habitat of wildlife, but in actuality a wetland is so much more than that. Depending on the type of wetland suggests the function it performs for the environment. We now realize that wetlands are important and valuable ecosystems. They are home to many beautiful and rare species. They filter runoff and adjacent surface waters to protect the quality of our lakes, bays and rivers. Wetlands also protect many of our sources of drinking water. They are the source of many commercially and recreationally valuable species of fish, shellfish and wildlife. They retain floodwaters and protect shorelines from erosion (Gomez, J. 1992, Pg. 3). There are several types of wetlands each differing in its location, climate, and the life supported. There are Northern Bogs, Prairie Potholes, Cypress Swamps, vernal pools, Southern Bottom Lands, and Coastal Marshes. For example bogs are especially good for trapping CO2 in the form of peat, coastal marshes filter out saltwater coming inland from the ocean, and cypress swamps (Above) absorb pollutants into their sediment.
One very beautiful as well as beneficial wetland is the vernal pool. Vernal pools are naturally occurring depression type wetlands that are covered by shallow water from winter to spring, but may be completely dry for most of the summer and fall. These wetlands range in size from small puddles to shallow lakes and are usually found in a gently sloping plain of grassland. Although generally isolated, they are sometimes connected to each other by small drainages known as vernal swales. Beneath vernal pools lies either bedrock or a hard clay layer in the soil that helps keep water in the pool. Climatic changes associated with each season cause dramatic changes in the appearance of vernal pools. The pools collect water during winter and spring rains, changing in volume in response to varying weather patterns. During a single season, pools may fill and dry several times. In years of drought, some pools may not fill at all.
In the spring, wildflowers often bloom in brilliant circles of color that follow the...
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