“May is American Wetlands Month! No matter where you live, chances are there’s a wetland nearby that provides important environmental benefits to your community. Wetlands support diverse fish and wildlife species, filter pollutants from rain water runoff, help recharge groundwater supplies, prevent flooding and enhance property values.”
Wetlands are ecosystems that are characterized by their vegetation (aquatic plants), their soils (formed during anaerobic conditions caused by being flooded or saturated with standing water), and, of course, their state of being largely saturated with water either seasonally or permanently. Examples of natural wetlands include bogs, fens, marshes, and swamps. Wetlands can also be constructed by humans for the purpose of collecting storm water runoff from urban areas in an effort to reduce the risk of flooding and avoid overwhelming municipal sewer systems during large rainstorms.
Wetlands are the most threatened type of ecosystem on earth, and we are losing them at a steady clip. Major threats to wetlands include land development, pollution (agricultural and otherwise), and the introduction of invasive species. Considering the benefits we receive from having wetlands around, it is imperative that we protect them. Earth Gauge offers some suggestions on how to do so.
Speaking of wetlands, one of my favorite wetland plant species is marsh marigold (Caltha palustris). It is in the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) and is common in wetlands throughout the Northern Hemisphere. I became familiar with this plant when I was volunteering at a wetland in Edwardsville, IL. Perhaps you’ve seen it growing in a wetland near you.
marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) photo credit: wikimedia commons