Fact Sheet
Wetlands

Types of Wetlands

Marshes

Marshes are areas with shallow water that are mostly grasslands. Marshes can be freshwater or saltwater and the amount of water in a marsh can change with the seasons and in the case of salt water marshes, can also change with the tide.

Plants
Freshwater marshes have soft stemmed and herbaceous plants, like grasses, shrubs and wildflowers. Plants found in saltwater marshes include reeds, grasses and shrubs like rushes, sedges, and saltbush.

Animals
Marshes are home to a variety of animals, including beavers, alligators, newts, shrimp and turtles.

Soil
Marshes have soil with low mineral content.

Location
Freshwater marshes often occur along the edges of lakes and rivers. Saltwater marshes occur along coastlines, inlets and estuaries where they are affected by tides, and often have a source of fresh water from surrounding land, rivers or ground water.

Swamps

Swamps are slow moving streams, rivers or isolated low areas with more open and deeper water than marshes.

Plants
Swamps have trees (for example, cypress tress in freshwater and mangrove trees in salty water) and woody shrubs rather than grasses and herbs. In African swamps, papyrus is the main plant.

Location
Swamps are found in low-lying areas near rivers or coastal areas. Examples include the Everglades in Florida.

Soil
Swamp soil is poorly-drained and water logged.

Animals
Swamp wildlife includes alligators, snakes, a variety of insects, bobcat, beaver, large diversity of birds and river otter.

Bogs and Fens

A bog is a fresh water wetland, usually formed in an old glacial lake with a spongy peat base. Most of the bog’s water comes from rain. A fen is a fresh water peat wetland covered mostly by grasses sedges, reeds, and wildflowers of high pH (alkaline) ground water.

Soil
Bogs have soil that is low in nutrients.

Plants
Evergreen trees and shrubs, and a floor covered by a thick carpet of sphagnum moss. Some species of carnivorous plants are also found in bogs.

Animals
There are only a few animals that are found in bogs. These include, red deer, Dragonflies and birds such as grouse and plover.

More on Wetlands: Threats »

You may also be interested in:

Polar bear, © Tom Schneider
Conservation Issue
Climate change is now one of the leading threats to wildlife. Find out what Defenders is doing to help animals around the country survive in a warming planet.
In the Magazine
These furry engineers play a crucial and largely unrecognized roles in conservation - Eager for Beavers