General Learning Objectives:
Know what is meant by a wetland and characteristics of a wetland
Know how the characteristics of wetlands make them unique among habitats
Know how wetlands function with other Earth systems such as the atmosphere, hydrology, and as habitat for wildlife and humans
Determine a monetary assessment value for park wetlands that can be applied to other habitat types or biomes.
What are Wetlands?
Know what is meant by a wetland
Know the characteristics of wetlands
When we talk about wetlands it is important to be sure we mean the same thing. There are many terms used to describe different types of wetlands. “Wetlands” is a term that has been used to describe all sorts of places that have three elements in common, saturation, hydrology, specialized plants, and specialized soils. Wetlands are buffers between the land and water characterized by soaking soil often enough to result in a particular mix of plants. A task force of the U.S. Government Council on Environmental Quality (1978) defined wetlands as “areas inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency or duration sufficient to support ...vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions.” For purposes of legislation and regulations, even more precise definitions or characterizations were developed, but they are also based on water regime, specialized soils, and specialized plants.
There are strong links between wetlands, even far inland, and the deep water environments of lakes and oceans. Wetlands truly are ambassadors between our land world and the water world that covers three fourths of the planet we depend on.