Wetland Ecology

WetlandEcology

Awetland is an area that is either seasonally or permanently saturatedwith fresh or salt water. Kakadu is a good example of wetland and itis located in the Northern Territory of Australia (Cronk&ampFennessy, 2010).Forthis report, Kakadu wetland will be described in details as thewetland selected for this particular assignment.

Figure1Wetlands of Kakadu

Kakaduwetland is found in Kakadu National Park,the largest park inAustralia. This wetland is essential for the park because it providessceneries for wildlife. Many animal species are often seen swimmingand floating on the water of the wetland prove that this wetland istheir living place. The yellow water billabong is the best-knownKakadu`s landmark and serves as a shelter for wild horses, buffalos,crocodiles, and other wildlife (Cronk&amp Fennessy, 2010).

Figure2Graphics of Kakadu wetlands

Thewetland has several in-flow rivers, which supply it with fresh water.These rivers include the South Alligator River, the Wildman River,the West Alligator River, and the East Alligator River. Such riversform the main hydrologic systems that drain water from the wetland(Cronk&amp Fennessy, 2010).

Hydrology

Kakaduwetland is a land area permanently saturated with water and islocated near Darwin in Australia mostly known for its uniquecharacteristic of having yellow water billabongs (LaBaugh,2015). Alligator is the largest river that receives water from the naturalstorm and supplies water to the wetland. In wet seasons, the areareceives an average of 1565 mm to 1300 mm of rainfall (Cronk&amp Fennessy, 2010).

Twoprimary rivers that supply water to Kakadu wetland include riverAdelaide and river Mary. Buffalos escaping hunters around the wetlandmostly use Adelaide River, which is close to Darwin. Occasionally,migrating wild animals are identified across river Mary located atthe Wetland.

Thepresence of the estuaries and tidal flats greatly controls thedrainage pattern of the area. Water in the estuary flows down slopeshence estuaries determine the flow patterns (LaBaugh,2015).Other landforms like outliers, stone country, floodplains, andsouthern hill determine the direction of water flow.

Soils

Thetype of soil found in Kakadu wetlands can be described as hydricsoils. These are soils which are permanently saturated with water.Hydric soil can be classified according to organic matter percentageit contains.

Figure3NRCS SOIL MAP

Furthermore,the wetland has mineral soils which contain less than 20% of organicmaterials. These types of soils are surrounded by evergreen grass.For instance, tidal marshes and swampy soils are the main classes ofmineral soils (Vepraskas&ampFaulkner, 2011).The swampy soils support the growth of many plant species.

Onthe other hand, Wetlands of Kakadu organic soils contain more than20% organic matter. Therefore, the wetland is referred to as peaklands (Vepraskas&amp Faulkner, 2011).These types of soil have been formed due to layers of decaying anddead plant matter that have accumulated over thousands of years inthe oxygen-less environment.

Plants

Thereis more than 1000 plant species in this wetland. The high plantsdiversity is due to areas landforms, fertile habitat and geologicalnature of the landscape. Distinct sites of the wetland have their ownspecialized flora. For instance, “Resurrection grasses” aremostly found in specialized areas like stone country. This is becausethey are capable of coping up with extreme temperature and theprolonged dry spell, usually followed by torrential rains.

Monsoonforest also grows in the wetland that survives in the cool moistgorges in the stone country. Furthermore, Eucalyptus grows mostly inthe southern hills and basins around the wetlands.

Thelowlands areas are enclosed with woodlands with the ground layercovered with grass. The example of grasses that covers the groundlayer includes sedges, spear grass, and wildflowers. Several types oftree species are found in the floodplains of the wetlands. Differentvarieties of water lilies such as yellow, white and blue snowflakesare dominant in the wetland (Cronk&amp Fennessy, 2010).Freshwater mangroves (itchy tree), spike rush, and paper bark treesare common in the region.

Onereason is because area is permanently saturated with water. Secondly,there is presence of hydric soil which is a common phenomenon inwetlands. The wetland also supports aquatic plants such as waterlilies and mangrove forests.

Onepart of wetlands of Kakadu stretches up to the sea. This is a regionthat has estuaries and tidal flats. There is a cliff which is around300 meters high of the Arnhem plateau (Vepraskas&amp Faulkner, 2011).The presence of yellow water all year round in wetlands attracts manybirds in dry seasons. Rivers flowing from the southern hills fillsthe wetland with water (Cronk &amp Fennessy, 2010). In addition,since the nature of soils in the area has poor drainage, water isretained on the soil surface making the area saturate with water inmost part of the year.

References

Cronk,J. K., &ampFennessy, M. S. (2010).&nbspWetlandplants: biology and ecology.CRC press.

LaBaugh,J. W. (2015). Wetland ecosystem studies from a hydrologicperspective1.

Vepraskas,M. J., &amp Faulkner, S. P. (2011).Redox chemistry of hydric soils.Wetland soils: Genesis, hydrology, landscapes, and classification,85-106.