A wetland is an area of land that is entirely covered by water for at least part of the year. Do all wetlands look the same? No! Each is a distinct ecosystem that supports life.
A bog is a wetland that accumulates peat, a deposit of dead plant material. Much of this material comes from mosses, like sphagnum moss. Their spongy, mossy floors contain fewer nutrients than a marsh or swamp. As a result, they cannot support large plants.
Only specially adapted creatures like salamanders, dragonflies, snakes, and carnivorous plants thrive in bogs.
Bogs are generally found in cool, northern climates. They receive most of their water from precipitation.
As a wetland, bogs improve water quality, trap carbon in their soil, and provide a habitat for unique plants and animals.
County Antrim, Northern Ireland, UK
A mangrove is a wetland filled with salt‑loving trees. These trees thrive where most plants fail—in brackish water with twice-daily ocean tides. The trees have complex root and salt filtration systems to cope with saltwater and wave action.
Mangroves are important breeding and nesting grounds for birds. They are also vital nurseries for young fish.
Mangroves are often found along tropical coasts where freshwater meets saltwater.
As a wetland, mangroves are important for storm surge protection, and they move carbon from the air into their soil for long‑term storage.
Los Haitises National Park, Dominican Republic
A swamp is a wetland dominated by woody plants and trees. The wet ground creates a thick, nutritious soil for water‑tolerant plants.
Animals that live in swamps—like alligators and frogs—are adapted to changing water levels. Tree root systems provide a rich, sheltered habitat for nesting birds, as well as fish, amphibians, and reptiles.
Freshwater swamps are commonly found inland, while saltwater swamps are usually found along coastal areas. They are fed by water from underground or surface water such as rivers.
As a wetland, swamps serve vital roles in flood protection and nutrient removal.
Florida Everglades, USA
A marsh is a wetland that supports reeds and grasses. Small shrubs often grow along the edges as the land gets drier, but there are few trees.
In Botswana, lions, jackals, and bat-eared foxes can be seen on the outskirts of marshes. They are home to diverse birdlife, such as Abdim’s storks, kori bustards, and large secretary birds.
Marshes can be formed by tides in lowland areas near a coast. Rivers often form marshlands on low lying floodplains and near lakes that flood during the wet season.
As a wetland, marshes contain water supplies in their soil. They also reduce damage by floods by absorbing floodwater.