Wetland Ecology Class




Awetland is a piece of either land covered by water seasonally orpermanently. Wetland of Delaware is an example of wetland found inU.S.A in small Mid-Atlantic U.S state. It sits on the peninsulasurrounded by dune-backed beaches bordering Delaware River, AtlanticOcean, and Delaware Bay. The history of Wetland Delaware dates backin the 1980s when a small farmer in Sussex County thought of how shecould improve and protect the land and water along the river.

Accordingto a research conducted by (Majumdar,1989),she found out that wetlands were very beneficial and valuable sourceto the farming activities. Theyalso, help improve water quality by removing chemicals and filteringof sediments. They further reduce floods and damage caused byerosion, provide habitat for flora and fauna, and offer variousbenefits for wildlife and humans. Production of economic andrecreational opportunities, originate from these wetlands as well.She came up with a plan of people adopting wetlands so that theycontinue to protect them and control their depletion.

Peoplehave utilized the waters to build fish ponds for fish keeping andother wildlife values (Cowardin, et al. 2003). Traditionally Delawarewetland used to be a hunting, trapping fishing, livestock grazing andtimber harvesting region. Drainage for agriculture, silviculture, andresidential development also took place. Some of thesocial-economical values from this region were flood control,erosion control, source of groundwater, timber harvesting, livestockgrazing, fishing, hunting, and recreation. Estuarine habitats alsoserve as a source of cover to most aquatic animals and majorly smallfishes.

Delawarewetland receives its water from Delaware River, which has its sourcefrom Delaware Bay. This wetland is permanent as the river flowsthroughout the year. Small upland areas exist in wetland boundariesthe central-western Delaware near Kenton, which is a pronepothole-flooding region. However, flooding took place more timesduring the historical times when vegetation was not common. Today, itis a forested area where regime determination and upland breaks.

Tidalwetland hydrology –ocean driven tides, are the most commonhydrologic features in coastal regions. Waves along Atlantic coastare symmetrical with a period of approximately 12hours. They arecharacterised by types of tides (high and low tides) in a day. Thehighest and the lowest tide occur during the new and full moon. Coastal storms can alter the level of waves and differences inhydrology create two zones, regularly flooded and irregularly floodedregions (Hardisky, &amp Klemas, 2005). Water runoffs from the landand groundwater discharge influence non-tidal wetland hydrology

Thepredominance of poorly drained hydric soil is the key character toidentifying wetland area. The soil lacks oxygen and is frequentlyflooded during the growing season. The type of soil occurring alongthe river consists of well-drained and poorly drained alluvial type.This ground meets flooding in early spring, and the water tablevaries depending on the increase of rainfall. In low areas, duringwinter water table is at the surface and falls one foot below insummer.

Wetlandplants dominantly found are simply hydrophytes they grow in water oralong the river. Many factors influence these plants which include:human activities, hydrology, and climate. Soil type, salinity,acidity and fluctuation of water are the most essential physicalfeatures for the growth of wetland vegetation. In Delaware, wetlandsoccur in five ecological systems by NWI: Palustrine, Lacustrine,Estuarine marshes Riverine and marine. Palustrine occupies 56% of thestate’s wetlands and 40% represents the Estuarine while Lacustrineand Riverine marines share the rest of the percentage.

Palustrinescrub-shrub wetlands are natural long tidal rivers such as MurderkillRiver, Cedar Creek, and Spring Creek. The swamp is extremely wet dueto tidal flooding. Two species (red maple and wax myrtle) dominatesthe plant communities. Poison ivy, winterberry, swamp rose, and redchokeberries are some of the other shrubs in this region. Thepalustrine forested wetland is the most common distributed wetlandtype. Woody plants taller than 20 feet are dominant and occur infresh wetlands both tidal and non-tidal. Tidally influenced forestedwetland land is common along the upper reaches of the river (Jones,2001).

Thelacustrine wetland is a deep-water habitat of lakes, deep ponds, andreservoirs. Algae and hydrophytes are the most observed communityplant. Free –floating plants, submerged plants, and emergent plantsare the common life forms of plants with free-floating aquatic beds.Spatterdock, white water lily and water shield are also dominantspecies. Lacustrine submerged aquatic vegetation include: pondweeds,waterweeds, bushy pondweeds and wild celery.

TheRiverine system contains deep-water habitat and restricted by aquaticbeds and vegetated shallow water. Common Riverine emergent plantsare: arrow arum, wild rice, spatterdock, and pickerelweed. They arecommon in the continuously flooded land. Large stands of Estuarinescrub-shrub wetlands are along the river occupied by high tide bushand sea myrtle. According to the data collected by (Majumdar,1989),the land qualifies as a wetland area since it contains all thecharacters ranging from the water source, soil type hydrology andactivities taking place along the riverside of a wetland region.


Cowardin,L.etal.(2003).Classificationof Wetlands and Deepwater Habitats of the United

States.U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.Cambridge: University Press

Hardisky,M.A. &amp Klemas, V (2005). Tidalwetlands natural and human-made changes. NewYork: University Press

Jones,D.R. (2001). Density, distribution, and productivity of small mammalson the Canary Creek marsh, Delaware. Master`s thesis. University ofDelaware, Newark

Majumdar,S. (1989). Wetlandsecology and conservation.Easton, PA: Pennsylvania Academy of Science.