The EPA on Wetlands
United States. Environmental Protection Agency. "What is a Wetland?" Wetlands. District of Columbia: 28 Mar 2016. Accessed 8 Oct 2016. <https://www.epa.gov/wetlands/what-wetland>
Wetlands are regions where water either covers the soil or is very close to the top of the soil (EPA, "What is a Wetland?" n. pag). There are two kinds of wetlands, characterized by where the water comes from in relation to the wider ecological system: tidal wetlands, which includes swamps and marshes, and non-tidal wetlands, which include bogs and vernal pools (EPA, "What is a Wetland?" n. pag).
United States. Environmental Protection Agency. "Wetland Classification and Types" Wetlands. District of Columbia: 28 Mar 2016. Accessed 8 Oct 2016.
"Swamps are characterized by saturated soils during the growing season and standing water during certain times of the year. The highly organic soils of swamps form a thick, black, nutrient-rich environment for the growth of water-tolerant trees such as Cypress (Taxodium spp.), Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides), and Tupelo (Nyssa aquatica). Some swamps are dominated by shrubs, such as Buttonbush or Smooth Alder. Plants, birds, fish, and invertebrates such as freshwater shrimp, crayfish, and clams require the habitats provided by swamps. Many rare species, such as the endangered American Crocodile, depend on these ecosystems as well. Swamps may be divided into two major classes, depending on the type of vegetation present: shrub swamps and forested swamps" (EPA, "Wetland Classification and Types," n. pag).
"Due to the nutrient-rich soils present in swamps, many of these fertile woodlands have been drained and cleared for agriculture and other development. Historically, swamps have been portrayed as frightening no-man's-lands. This perception led to the vast devastation of immense tracts of swampland over the past 200 years, such as the destruction of more than half of the legendary Great Dismal Swamp of southeastern Virginia" (EPA, "Wetland Classification and Types," n. pag).
United States. Environmental Protection Agency. "What Are Wetland Functions?" Wetlands. District of Columbia: 6 Oct 2016. Web. 8 Oct 2016.
"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... Wetlands can be thought of 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 combination of shallow water, high levels of nutrients and primary productivity is ideal for the development of organisms that form the base of the food web ... Wetlands' microbes, plants and wildlife are part of global cycles for water, nitrogen and sulfur. Furthermore, scientists are beginning to realize that atmospheric maintenance may be an additional wetlands function. Wetlands store carbon within their plant communities and soil instead of releasing it to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Thus, wetlands help to moderate global climate conditions" (EPA, "What Are Wetland Functions?" n. pag).