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Wetlands: what are they, types and characteristics

For more than 20 years, every February 2 has been celebrated World Wetlands Day. This is intended to make the population aware of the need and obligation we have to conserve these precious ecosystems. Each year, a different slogan accompanies Wetland Day, thus highlighting the importance of wetlands for our future in sustainable livelihoods (year 2016), wetlands and water management (year 2013) or wetlands, biodiversity and climate change (2010), among other slogans. Source of innumerable natural riches, wetlands appear in places as remote as Margarita Island in Venezuela, or the Valley of the Lakes on the border between Mongolia, China and Russia; as well as on the island with the greatest mountainous relief in the Mediterranean (Corsica) and the estuary of the Sierra Leone River.

Do not miss this interesting AgroCorrn article in which you will discover everything about what wetlands are, their types and characteristics .

  1. What are wetlands
  2. Types of wetlands
  3. Wetland characteristics
  4. Importance of wetlands

What are wetlands

Wetlands are all those ecosystems whose soils appear permanently or periodically flooded, both in freshwater environments and in those with a certain degree of salinity.

In this way, wetland ecosystems include both natural wetlands , such as extensive marshes, swamps and peatlands, as well as those anthropic wetlands that were designed by humans and that artificially retain water, both permanently and permanently. temporarily, adapting to environmental conditions.

In the next sections we will see in more detail the different types of wetlands that exist as well as the main characteristics of these ecosystems of great natural wealth.

Types of wetlands

Wetlands are classified, first of all, according to the type of water of which they are composed, thus existing freshwater wetlands and salty or salubrious wetlands. In turn, wetlands can be natural or artificial (created by humans). In this way, the different types of wetlands that exist are included in the following groups:

  • Fluvial or riparian wetlands: they are natural and freshwater, formed by rivers, streams and waterfalls.
  • Lacustrine: lakes and natural freshwater lagoons.
  • Tropical swamps : includes springs, oases, swamp forests, floodplains, swamps, and permanent or seasonal swamps. All of them of natural origin and fresh water.
  • Marine wetlands : These natural saltwater wetlands include all shallow marine environments, as well as rocky, sandy, and gravel beaches.
  • Estuaries – Naturally occurring estuarine salty waters sometimes form saltwater marshes and mangrove areas.
  • Saltwater lake / marsh wetlands: includes naturally occurring brackish coastal lakes and lagoons.
  • Artificial wetlands : these wetlands are the result of anthropic works carried out with the aim of storing or controlling a certain volume of water, such as reservoirs and dams.

Wetland characteristics

These are the main characteristics of wetlands :

  • Wetlands are considered areas of transition or progressive change between aquatic and terrestrial systems, that is, mixed ecosystems . Here you can learn more about What is a mixed ecosystem .
  • They constitute flood zones in such a way that they can be temporary or permanent.
  • The waters of the wetlands can be stagnant waters, currents, fresh, brackish or salty water, including those marine areas whose depth at low tide is less than six meters.
  • The boundary of any wetland is determined by the type of hydrophilic vegetation (with a good predisposition to water) that appears on the ground, so that by changing the type of vegetation for a non-hydrophilic one, we can distinguish how the wetland ecosystem ends and gives I start another ecosystem with an exclusively terrestrial environment.
  • Wetlands are the ideal habitat for a wide variety of species , including migratory birds that come to wetlands around the world to feed, as well as mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and of course, fish and insects, which they choose. the waters of the wetlands as a refuge.

Importance of wetlands

Wetlands are one of the most important ecosystems within the proper functioning of nature. And it is not for less, since they are responsible for harboring an incredible biodiversity of species of birds, fish and other groups of animals, as well as a great variety of plant species characterized by their hydrophilic, water-dependent development.

On the other hand, in terms of their value within the anthropic world, wetlands serve on numerous occasions as areas for food production that require large amounts of water for cultivation, as is the case with rice. Other times they are used as areas to obtain raw materials, such as wood and reeds.

There are still more factors for which the conservation of wetlands is of vital importance , since they directly intervene in the regulation of the surface water cycle and aquifers, acting as controlling agents of possible floods; as well as participating in the control of erosion, the regulation of the nutrient cycle, the high biological productivity, the retention of carbon dioxide in its soils and, in general, the stability of the ecosystems.

If you want to read more articles similar to Wetlands: what they are, types and characteristics , we recommend that you enter our Ecosystems category .

Maria Anderson

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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