Wetlands Portal


A wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, such that it takes on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem. The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other land forms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to the unique hydric soil. Wetlands play a number of roles in the environment, principally water purification, flood control, carbon sink and shoreline stability. Wetlands are also considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal life. Wetlands occur naturally on every continent except Antarctica, the largest including the Amazon River basin, the West Siberian Plain, and the Pantanal in South America. The water found in wetlands can be freshwater, brackish, or saltwater. The main wetland types include swamps, marshes, bogs, and fens; and sub-types include mangrove, carr, pocosin, and varzea.

The UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment determined that environmental degradation is more prominent within wetland systems than any other ecosystem on Earth. International conservation efforts are being used in conjunction with the development of rapid assessment tools to inform people about wetland issues.

Constructed wetlands can be used to treat municipal and industrial wastewater as well as stormwater runoff and they also play a role in water-sensitive urban design.

Selected article

A salt marsh.
In ecology, a halosere is a succession in a saline environment. An example of a halosere is a salt marsh.

In a river estuary, large amounts of silt are deposited by the ebbing tides and inflowing rivers.

The earliest plant colonizers are algae and eel grass, which can tolerate submergence by the tide for most of the 12-hour cycle and which trap mud, causing it to accumulate. Two other colonizers are Salicornia and Spartina, which are halophytes, i.e. plants that can tolerate saline conditions. They grow on the inter-tidal mudflats with a maximum of four hours' exposure to air every 12 hours.

Spartina has long roots enabling it to trap more mud than the initial colonizing plants and Salicornia, and so on. In most places this becomes dominant vegetation. The initial tidal flats receive new sediments daily, are waterlogged to the exclusion of oxygen, and have a high pH value.

The sward zone, in contrast, is inhabited by plants that can only tolerate a maximum of four hours submergence every day (24 hours). The dominant species there are sea lavender and other numerous types of grasses.

Things you can do

  • Create articles: There are many articles that have yet to be started... Pick your favorite and start researching!
  • Find photos for articles: Many wetlands–related articles would be substantially better with the addition of one or more photographs. Feel free to take your own and upload them, or find ones with the appropriate licenses and upload them here!
  • Categorize articles: Figure out what categories to add to each article so that others can find them more easily.
  • Expand articles: There are many wetland stubs which could use extensive updates and development.
  • Find sources: Many of our articles are poorly sourced and could use much better citations.
  • Wikify: Add {} to the See also sections of Wetlands-related articles.


Selected picture

Did you know...

that high marshes have salinity levels up to four times that of sea water?
...that high marshes have salinity levels up to four times that of sea water?

(Pictured left: Spartina patens.)

Other "Did you know" facts...


To display all subcategories click on the "►":
Wetlands(11 C, 68 P)
Wetlands by country(163 C)
Bogs(5 C, 19 P)
Constructed wetlands(1 C, 24 P)
Floodplains(2 C, 7 P)
Marshes(7 C, 9 P)
Ramsar Convention(1 C, 5 P)
Swamps(2 C, 7 P)
Wetland conservation(4 C, 8 P)
Wetlands organizations(1 C, 12 P)



Related portals



The following Wikimedia Foundation sister projects provide more on this subject:






Learning resources

Travel guides