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FRESHWATER MARSHES

SUBSTRATE: Peat in deep-water marshes with long hydroperiods; marl or sandy in marshes with moderate to short hydroperiods and seasonal drying.

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 animals and plants native to the Freshwater Marshes ecosystem, with detailed descriptions and pictures on each.