Marshes, Tracks in the Mud
support a diversity of plants and animals. These natural
systems are considered some of the most diverse, dynamic
and complex habitats on the planet.
60% of the nation's wetlands have been degraded and lost
as a result of agricultural (habitat converted to farmland)
and urban developments. Although the landscape includes
many lakes, man-made lakes have decreased wetlands because
the increased depth cannot support semi-aquatic submergent
vegetation; necessary as shelter and food for wildlife.
The lakes do not provide the same habitat opportunities
for wildlife as wetlands do.
soil management is a technique that targets
wetlands and their unique cycles of flooding and draining
to support wildlife.
Wetlands are important to wildlife - plants and animals.
Wetlands also act as a filter
to increase water quality for humans. They
are in low lying areas, generally with a high water table;
as the water seeps into the ground, the soil and rocks filter
out impurities. Wetlands replenish
the aquifers below them with clean water.
The decrease in wetlands has contributed to the loss of
water volume in underground aquifers.
management on the marshes allows plants to grow and seed
at optimum levels for waterfowl use. This kind of management
requires calculated flooding and draining of the wetlands
throughout the year.
This imitates the natural
rain cycle in a wetland to dry out while
important seeds establish and then to fill for waterfowl
habitat use.Common summer inhabitants of the wetlands include
Great Blue Herons, Little Blue Herons, Tri-colored Herons,
Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, White-faced Ibis and others.
are not always wet - by definition, wetlands are dry for
portions of of the year. Since the refuge already manages
the water supply, wetlands are drained and flooded systematically.
Fields, like the one below, are drained in the spring/early
summer. Natural plant food grow or are farmed into the unit,
which will be flooded again in the fall.
the winter, migrating ducks such as Mallards, Teal, Shovelers
and others use the wetland areas for the abundant food,
cover and protection from predators.
waterfowl need wetlands, in addition to crop lands, to fulfill
their dietary requirements. The invertebrates in the wetland
are crutial to providing essential nutrients for breeding.
wetlands are recovered across the nation, wildlife will
be more abundant and problems such as flooding should be
minimized. Recovering our
wetlands has only recently been recognized as a necessity.
The long-term benefits to these natural ecosystems will
be for a healthier planet and increased wildlife habitat.
in the Mud
The private lives of wildlife are exposed in the tracks
they leave. Identifying tracks is a fun hobby that explains
“who” has been there as well as giving some
clues as to “what” they were doing.
look close enough, you can find mammal and bird tracks,
frog impressions and even beetle tracks in the marsh mud.
August 7, 2007
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