Types of Wetlands

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There are a variety of different types of wetlands that differ in geographic location and the type of species they support.  More common wetland types include deciduous swamps, wet meadows, emergent marshes, conifer swamps, wet prairies, shrub-scrub swamps, fens, and bogs.  Wetlands can be generalized into three encompassing types: swamps,marshes, and bogs.     


Swamps are dominated by woody plants and can be described as flooded woodlands or shrublands.  Swamps primarily maintain super-saturated soils throughout the year but occasionally dry during the hot summer months.  In Michigan, the prominent vegetation types found in swamps are red and silver maple, cedar, balsam, willow, alder, black ash, elm, and dogwood.  Swamps are generally found in low lying areas that have saturated soils such as in floodplains and along streams.  Common species that rely on swamps for habitat include wood frogs, gray treefrogs, salamanders, barred owls, waterthrushes, warblers, water shrews, raccoons, deer, and coyotes.


Marshes have less water than swamps and, in Michigan, are usually found in lowlands such as at the edge of rivers and lakes and in swales between sand dunes.  The water level in marshes seasonally fluctuates between several inches of standing water to dry for part of the year.  Marshes are dominated by soft stemmed grasses and emergent plants such as cattails, sedges, rushes, arrowhead, pickerel weed, and smartweed.  This type of habitat provides breeding grounds for fish species and a seasonal migration area for many species of birds.  Other species, including frogs, reptiles (turtles, water snakes), and mammals such as muskrats, beaver, and otter rely on marshes for primary feeding and breeding habitat.


Bogs result from a natural process of decaying vegetation filling older kettle ponds or lakes.  The amount of water that comprise bogs varies from standing, visually murky waters to spongy soils covered in sphagnum moss.  Bogs have unique soils that are highly acidic and largely derived of nutrients and oxygen.  Due to the uniqueness of a bog ecosystem, they often support rare species of orchids, sundew, pitcher plants, spotted turtles, and the southern bog lemming.  Historically, bogs have been readily depreciated and are highly threatened wetland systems.  Bogs are still found in Michigan but are most prevalent in the southeastern part of the United States.


Source: Michigan Department of Enviornmental Quality