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Plants and Animals:
Introduction to Transitional Wetlands


T. Ann Williams

Transitional wetlands are areas that are not wet all of the time. They extend from the landward edge of the fringe or scrub mangrove zone (where red, black and white mangroves predominate) to the landward edge of the buttonwood zone where hammock or pinelands begin. Transitional wetlands may be only a few meters wide (upper Keys) or up to a thousand meters across (lower Keys). They are usually flat and gently sloping with a distinctive mosaic, or gradient in vegetation, often growing on a thin layer of limestone caprock. The transitional wetland community is divided into two components: the open saltmarsh and, in slightly higher elevations, the forested buttonwood zone.