This photo shows mangrove trees growing in black water. The trunks of the mangroves widen and split toward the bottom. A white bird stands in the water among the trees.
Located in southern Florida, Everglades National Park is vast array of wetland environments, including sawgrass marshes, cypress swamps, and estuarine mangrove forests. Here, a great egret walks among cypress trees. (credit: NPS)

OpenStax Biology 2e

Wetlands are environments in which the soil is either permanently or periodically saturated with water. Wetlands are different from lakes because wetlands are shallow bodies of water whereas lakes vary in depth. Emergent vegetation consists of wetland plants that are rooted in the soil but have portions of leaves, stems, and flowers extending above the water’s surface. There are several types of wetlands including marshes, swamps, bogs, mudflats, and salt marshes. The three shared characteristics among these types—what makes them wetlands—are their hydrology, hydrophytic vegetation, and hydric soils.

Freshwater marshes and swamps are characterized by slow and steady water flow. Bogs, however, develop in depressions where water flow is low or nonexistent. Bogs usually occur in areas where there is a clay bottom with poor percolation of water. (Percolation is the movement of water through the pores in the soil or rocks.) The water found in a bog is stagnant and oxygen-depleted because the oxygen used during the decomposition of organic matter is not readily replaced. As the oxygen in the water is depleted, decomposition slows. This leads to a buildup of acids and a lower water pH. The lower pH creates challenges for plants because it limits the available nitrogen. As a result, some bog plants (such as sundews, pitcher plants, and Venus flytraps) capture insects in order to extract the nitrogen from their bodies. Bogs have low net primary productivity because the water found in bogs has low levels of nitrogen and oxygen.


Clark, M., Douglas, M., Choi, J. Biology 2e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/details/books/biology-2e


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