What's a Wetland? Paddle marshes, swamps & bogs w/Lucas Miller and discover their importance

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Science Up with the Singing Zoologist
Published at : 16 Dec 2020
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Ready for another? The wetland rap is gonna blow you away!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X33FX8pG-Dc
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Grab a paddle get swampy with Lucas Miller! Learn to distinguish marshes, swamps and recognize some of the important services they provide.

Wetlands are places where the water and land meet. The soils are saturated with water at least some of the year. They can be salt water, brackish or fresh water. So wetland is a pretty general term that can be applied to a LOT of unique ecosystems. Kind of like the word "forest" can refer to steamy tropical rainforest or a frigid, Canadian pine forest.

Marshes and swamps are typically along the edge of a river, lake or other body of water. As storm runoff erodes soils upland and runs downhill, the nutrients are often carried and trapped by wetlands so these are incredibly productive ecosystems.

As a matter of fact, some salt marshes produce more MASS of living stuff, acre-for-acre, than rainforests! Rainforests have greater biodiversity (number of species) but rainforest soils actually tend to be nutrient-poor.

They can be fresh or salt water so many wetlands are found along the coasts. Tides play major roles in coastal wetlands.

The primary plants in marshes are grasses and swamps are dominated trees. Most of this video was filmed on Armand Bayou near Houston, Texas but the cut-shot of the swamp was filmed on a "swamp tour" near New Orleans, Louisiana.

Bogs aren't part of a river, lake, ocean or groundwater. They are depressions that collect water from precipitation so nutrients are scarcer. Peat mosses carpet the bottoms of bogs and the waters are acidic. You'll find carnivorous plants like the Venus fly trap in bogs--they trap insects for their nutrients, rather than their energy/calories.

Wetlands are celebrated for cleaning water. Their are often filter feeders like shellfish that help in this capacity but the stagnant waters and dense plant growth also help trap much of the topsoil that washes into waters with heavy rains.

Wetlands also reduce flooding by absorbing rainwater like a sponge and by providing barriers between deeper water and the uplands.

This video is focused on Texas coastal wetlands but their are many unique, local forms of throughout the world. Again, the word wetland refers to a LOT of unique ecosystems.

For more info about wetlands, you might want to check out https://www.epa.gov/wetlands/what-wetland

Get out there and explore the wetlands in YOUR neighborhood!
wetlandswetlandmarsh

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