Check out this huge M. annularis and accompanying fish at Molasses Reef, Key Largo, Florida.
Wetlands are natures filters. There are many different types of wetlands. Marshes make up the largest group of wetlands including both tidal and non-tidal marshes. Other types of wetlands include swamps, bogs, and fens.
Marshes are wetlands that are most frequently or continually covered with water. Their types of vegetation include soft-stemmed plants that are adapted to very wet soils that would generally cause deterioration of normal hardwoods and other soft wooded plants. This type of wetland receives the majority of its water supply from the surface yet many are also fed by groundwater. In general in this type of wetland the pH of the water is roughly neutral due to the abundance of nutrients and plant life. Marshes recharge groundwater supplies and moderate streamflow when they are used to provide water to streams. This makes marshes extremely important in dry periods. They help reduce the effects of flooding on areas of land that occur below the wetland. They slow and store the water from the heavy rains. In acting as a filter they cause the water to flow slowly through the marsh causing sediment and other pollutants to settle to the bottom of the marsh. Not only does the marsh itself aid in reducing pollutants, the organisms and microorganisms can use the overload of nutrients for growth that might have usually caused pollution of the surface water because of fertilizers.
Non-tidal marshes are the most common and most widely distributed types of wetlands in the North America. Though they are called non-tidal, they can also be alkaline or brackish. These marshes occur in areas that drain water at a slower rate due to a physical depression in the area. They can also occur in the shallow areas around lakes, ponds, and rivers. The general depth of marshes is from a few inches up to about 3 feet, some even dry out completely depending on season.
Since they have such high levels of nutrients freshwater marshes are one of the most productive cosystems on the planet. They can sustain such a large amount of biomass that is actually out of proportion to the size of the wetland.
Tidal wetlands occur, as the name would suggest, along the coastlines. Generally along middle and high latitude areas around the world. There are saline marshes and upper marshes. The saline marshes is only occasionally covered with water, and is dominated by short smooth cordgrass, spike grass, and black grass. The animals are adapted to living in highly saline environments. The high marshes generally have more varied types of organisms. These types of marshes buffer stormy seas, erosion, and are there to act of sponges to absorb excess nutrients before they reach the sea.
Swamps are any wetland dominated by woody plants. These types of wetlands are characterized by wet soils during the growing season and usually standing water during other times of the year. The soil type in swamps is a very thick black, rich soil that allows trees that can tolerate saturated soils to grow. Cypress, Atlantic white cedar, and tupelo are some types of trees that grow there, along with numerous shrubs that dominate the low areas.
The role that swamps play is of nutrient removal and flood protection. The floods provide very rich soils and makes them very high in productivity. In the various types of swamps there are those that are almost always inundated by standing or very slow moving water, and there are those swamps that are dominated by shrubs instead the larger trees like cypress and Atlantic white cedar.
Bogs are the most distinct type of wetland. Their feature characteristic is the spongy peat deposits along with an acidic water environment. One thing that separates these wetlands from the previous is the fact that bogs receive the majority of the water from rainfall. This makes them low in nutrients making them less hospitable for great variance in organisms. But with the acidic soils it lends for interesting and types of organisms. Bogs prevent downstream flooding by absorbing rainfall.
This picture shows a non-tidal marsh
This picture shows a swamp
that is dominated by mostly hardwood species
This is a picture of a bog
The different types of bogs are generally separated through temperature. There are northern cold temperature bogs characterized by a very short growing season. And there are pocosins which translates to ńswamp on a hill.î They are tree dominated located on the Atlantic coast from Virginia to northern Florida.
Fens are the last major type of wetland. These are peat forming wetlands that receive their water from other sources than rain, generally from upland sources like from mountains or highlands. The difference between fens and bogs is that fens are higher in productivity and less acidic a fen may turn into a bog if the water supply is cut off by the accumulation of peat. Fens, as bogs do, act as a watershed that prevents flooding, improves the quality of water, and of course provides habitat for varying types of organisms.
The wetland we our using for our project is Shaker Trace Wetlands located in Whitewater Forest State Park. This wetland has undergone a transformation from originally being a wetland, then changed into a farm field, and now it has been left alone to allow it to return to its natural wetland state..
Here are two pictures from the site: the first is a shot taken when it was just a large empty field and the second is how it currently looks
The role that Wetlands play is vital to our ecosystem and even helps save lives
¤ Marshes recharge groundwater supplies
¤ Reduce the effects of flooding on areas of land that occur below the wetland
¤ They slow and store the water from the heavy rains
¤ Acting as a filter they cause the water to flow slowly through the marsh causing sediment and other pollutants to settle to the bottom of the marsh
¤ The organisms and microorganisms can use the overload of nutrients for growth that might have usually caused pollution of the surface water because of fertilizers
¤ Tidal marshes buffer stormy seas, erosion, and are there to act of sponges to absorb excess nutrients before they reach the sea
¤ Bogs prevent downstream flooding by absorbing rainfall
¤ Fens, as bogs do, act as a watershed that prevents flooding, improves the quality of water, and of course provides habitat for varying types of organisms
Our Proposal at Shaker Trace Wetland
¤ Assay randomly selected areas within a square one-half mile section
¤ Record the growth using a basic scale of one to five.
We would like to look at the amount of growth that occured in the Phase II and Phase III. We chose this area because it had only been started in 1992 and 1993. This will enable us to be able to predict the amount of growth that will occur in a certain time span.
To gather the data we took 8 samples around the area that we studied. We used an area of study that was approximately one-half mile square. To measure the various amounts of growth we used a scale of one to five. Where one would be a measure of the least amount of growth and five would be a measure of the most amount of growth. We took 50 one-meter samples at each cardinal direction around the area of study. So there were two measurements at the northern most part of the area in study, two measurements at the eastern most part of the area in study, two at the western most part, and two at the southern most part.
We then took these measurements and entered them into an Excel document to create graphs that could easilly show the amount of growth of the varied samplings. There are eight graphs that show the growth along each samplings. Then there are two graphs that compare the varied growths. There can be seen a general trend of increasing growth that starts at the edge of the land surveyed and ends up with the highest readings at the center where the land was fully recovered. This was the expected data that we expected to find with a few minor patches of unexpected growth or with some patches of very little growth where there should have been heavy re growth.
ALL OF OUR DATA AND CHARTS CAN BE FOUND HERE!
THIS IS A LINK TO A POWERPOINT PRESENTATION COVERING OUR FINDINGS AND MANY PICTURES OF THE WETLAND!
This graph shows how all of our data can be compared. It shows the varied growth and it can be deduced using this graph that there is a general trend of increasing growth as the samples move toward the center of the wetland area in study.
Three HOT men (chosen at random from our group of three)
Information provided by Shaker Trace (leaflets/ pamphlets)
The reason or relevance of this project to us was that wetlands are such a vital part of our Ohio ecosystem. It has also been shown that over 90% of Ohios wetlands have been drained due to the farming industry since 1790 when the European settlers came into Ohio. Many plants and wild life have been lost due to the wetlands being drained. When people first moved into this area wetlands were thought to be worthless land, even the government would offer to pay farmers to drain the wetland to get to the fertile soils that were under them.
When people started to see how important wetlands are to the entire ecosystem they wanted to preserve the and restore them to try to not only bring back the wetland plants, but also the many many animals that will come with it. Even if let alone, with the drain tile removed, the once wetland would begin to go back to normal without the help of people, but not quickly enough. The seeds that the wetland plants left behind are still there from hundreds of years ago. They just need the moist soils that go along with the wetland to germinate and grow.
We discovered that there was generally more growth toward the center of the area in study where it was undisturbed and where the initial part of the Phase II and Phase III were started. By our estimation at our area of study we concluded that over half of this area had returned to its natural state. We predict that after another 10 years our area of study should have doubled its wetland area. This is of course dependant upon the annual rainfall and the amount of human interference in the area.
We would like to thank everyone that contributed to our project and all of the data we collected. This project would not have been possible without the help of Dr. Cummins and Dr. Kauffman.
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