SUBSTRATE: Peat in deep-water marshes with long hydroperiods;
marl or sandy in marshes with moderate to short hydroperiods and
TOPOGRAPHY: Low, flat, poorly drained.
VEGETATION: Dominant species are herbaceous plants such
as water lily, cattail, maidencane, and pickerelweed; most are of
temperate origin; the Everglades marsh, which is by far the largest,
is dominated by sawgrass.
FAUNA: Abundant animal life, but not diverse, except for
birds; both temperate and tropical birds abound; habitat for the
endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrow, snail kite, and wood stork;
the American alligator is an important animal in many Florida marshes;
white-tailed deer use freshwater marshes extensively, along with
the endangered Florida panther.
PROCESSES/DYNAMICS/ABIOTIC FACTORS: Shallow water at or
above the soil surface for much of the year; fire is of crucial
importance in limiting invasion of woody vegetation; fire period
in deep-water marshes is every 3-5 years; shallow marshes tend to
burn on a 1-3 year cycle.
HUMAN IMPACTS: Campaigns to drain wetlands throughout history
of Florida following European settlement; between mid-1950's and
mid-1970's, 24% of Florida's remaining marshes were drained; many
more have been severely altered by unnatural flooding.
ANIMALS AND PLANTS NATIVE TO ECOSYSTEM: List of selectable
and plants native to the Freshwater Marshes ecosystem, with
detailed descriptions and pictures on each.