- from Wetlands
Picture the Arctic tundra—a vast frigid expanse of mosses, lichens, and stunted trees in the northernmost land area of the world. Now picture Florida’s steamy Everglades, tropical home to alligators, manatees, and 15-foot-high saw grass. Two very different places, right?
Yet they are both wetlands, places where the water level is at or near the surface of the land. Wetlands make up about 6 percent of the Earth’s land surface. They occur on all of the world’s continents except Antarctica. Some are found near the ocean, and some are far inland.
Swamps, marshes, and bogs are the most common types of wetlands, but there are others. What makes a wetland? They all have standing water, either at the surface or near the roots of plants. Wetlands also have unique soils formed by decomposing plant materials. Naturally, the plant life of wetlands is uniquely adapted to watery soils.
Because they occur where the wet and dry worlds intersect, wetlands are rich in plant and animal life. For the same reason, they also harbor some deep human mysteries.