Bottomland Hardwood Forest


Bottomland hardwood forests are a prominent ecosystem in the Southeast.  This ecosystem supports a unique forest community of bald cypress, water tupelo, black gum, and numerous species of oak. Scientists often consider a bottomland hardwood forest ecosystem as an extension of a river. Regular flooding is an integral part of a river's cycle, so these areas are flooded often and the trees that grow in this ecosystem must be tolerant of standing water.

One of the most important functions of bottomlands is providing refuge for wildlife, including river otter, many species of waterfowl, neotropical migratory bird species like the prothonotary warbler, and a healthy aquatic community of game and nongame fish, crayfish, freshwater mussels and more. Bottomland hardwood ecosystems are also critical to recharging the ground water,filtering impurities from water draining from the land, and helping to control flood waters and erosion. 

Unfortunately, this ecosystem has been reduced by as much as 85 percent from forest clearing, conversion to farmland, and ditching and draining the wetlands associated with the bottomland hardwood forest ecosystem. Today, this ecosystem is considered one of the 21 most endangered ecosystems in the United States based on a report by the Defenders of Wildlife.