Did you know…
May is American Wetlands Month? Maybe take a day and explore? I know by the title, you might expect some insight on snapping the critters, but since it is Wetlands Month, better to talk about important stuff I think. Oh, the first and last photo are a bit cute, but nothing is cute on the importance of place.
Did you know…
Wetlands aid in limiting the effects of climate change?
They only cover 9 percent of our earth, but contain about 35 percent of terrestrial carbon. This is pretty amazing because they act as sinks for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. (source) Most beneficial are coastal wetlands in greenhouse gas sequestration, but if they are drained, they act as carbon sources instead.
Climate change affects wetlands too, most noticeably any changes in precipitation may cause biodiversity loss.
Wetlands exist in areas where the soil is saturated for most of the year, and anything changing the water level will affect the wildlife that depends on these habitats. Wildlife, especially waterfowl and amphibians will be most affected by wetland loss or degradation. Waterfowl depends on them for food, shelter and safely raising young.
“Global climate change could affect wetlands through increased air temperature; shifts in precipitation; increased frequency of storms, droughts, and floods; increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration; and sea level rise.” (source)
Did you know…
Some animals, like deer visit wetlands occasionally for food, water, or shelter? I photographed a small herd.
Wetland soils are wet and are even higher than terrestrial soils in organic content. Soils are often high in clay which helps to keep the water from seeping into the earth. Soil is usually black, gray or even tinged green due to the lack of oxygen between soil particles.
But it is a misconception that the absorptive properties of vegetation and soil are the sole reason water remains in wetlands. Gravity and topography are the leading reason for water remaining over time.
“Peatlands are considered to be the biggest terrestrial carbon reservoirs on Earth but they also release carbon dioxide and methane (another carbon compound) through decomposition. If they are left undisturbed carbon storage is greater than carbon release; however, if they are disturbed they can become carbon sources.” (source)
Warmer water temperatures are more productive where wetlands can end up overrun by algae, which degrades water quality. Algae grows because fertilizer run-off causes algal blooms in the water. In excess, algae deplete oxygen in the water killing the plants, fish and animals that live there. Duckweed (a plant) also covers waters, but is useful and nutritious as food for wildlife. The disadvantage to both is in excess. They can shade out the wetland floor and affect the growth of native water plants.
Did you know…
In 2009 the US had over 110 million acres of wetlands, but between 2004 and 2009, an estimated 62,300 acres of wetlands were lost in the United States? Over half of the original wetlands of the 220 million acres believed to have existed in the lower 48 states, have been converted to other use or have been drained. Besides this, wetlands have been degraded by chemical contamination, excess nutrients, and sediment from air and water.
Wetlands have a large variety of wildlife, some of the richest landscapes around. Many animals that live in other habitats use wetlands for migration or reproduction.
Unlike some other habitats, wetlands will improve other ecosystems. They have a cleansing effect, cleaning water by filtering out sedimentation, decomposing vegetative matter and converting chemicals into useable form. They also recycle nutrients.
All is well…
A lot of action happens in a wetland too. Hawks may be looking for prey, yet a wetland resident, the Black Winged Blackbird is keeping the wetland safe from predators.
All is not well… butts up bud!
Other posts in the wetlands…