Habitats And Plant Communities

A drawing of the various habitats of the Everglades viewed from the side showing relative elevation
The Everglades is very low in elevation but even slight elevation changes can affect which habitats develop in an area. This graphic displays habitats by their general elevation in relation to the others. Click the image to learn more.

NPS Graphic

With the dedication of Everglades National Park in 1947, a new precedent was set in the growing conservation movement. For the first time in American history, a large tract of wilderness was permanently protected not for its scenic value, but for the benefit of the unique diversity of life it sustained.

The mosaic of habitats found within the Greater Everglades Ecosystem supports an assemblage of plant and animal species found nowhere else on the planet. While nine distinct habitats have been identified, the landscape remains dynamic. Ecosystems remain in a constant state of flux, subject to the effects of abiotic and biotic factors, like fire, invasive species, water, storms, and climate change.

Select A Habitat To Learn More

  • A view of the understory in a lush, green wooded area.
    Hardwood Hammock

    Dominated by broad-leaf trees, hardwood hammocks have the highest elevation in the Everglades, remaining dry in all but the wettest years.

  • Looking into the open canopy of a pine forest. The tall, slender trees look like green q-tips.

    One of the most endangered plant communities in the world, pine rocklands are a fire-dependent ecosystem found in a small area of the world.

  • Exposed scraggly pale rock with sparse vegetation growing in and around it.
    Freshwater Marl Prairie

    Marl prairies dominate the eastern side of the park. This plant community resembles freshwater sloughs, but it is drier and less vegetated.

  • A flooded plain with grass-like plants growing out of the water.
    Freshwater Slough

    Sloughs are “deep” sections of a wetland that are flooded periodically. In the Everglades, sloughs are the main channels for water flow.

  • A copse of trees with brown and green needles in standing water with a dark alligator in it.

    Cypress trees are characteristic wetland trees and are the base of more than one distinct Everglades plant community.

  • A verdant green, lush prairie with a line of trees in the distance.
    Coastal Lowland

    Coastal lowlands are characterized by rugged plant communities that can tolerate the harsh growing conditions found there.

  • The front of an orange kayak heads into a tunnel of trees growing out of the water on spindly roots.

    The Everglades has the largest continuous mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere. Mangroves are incredibly important to our coasts.

  • A n expanse of green seagrass with wide, short blades underwater
    Marine And Estuarine

    Many think of the Everglades as a freshwater wetland, but more than one third of the park is comprised of marine and estuarine ecosystems.

Last updated: April 7, 2021

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