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Wetlands at Limberlost


Indiana’s wetlands are "in-between places that provide a transition between land and water." They are a "precious ecological resource, hosting a varying combination of plants and animals." In fact, wetland habitats "contain the highest diversity of plants and animals, including endangered species, in Indiana" (Myers 67).

Wetlands are most prevalent in the northeast and southwest regions of the state. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, three of the five major types of wetland are present in Indiana. They are: lacustrine, which refers to permanently flooded lakes and water basins deeper than six feet; palustrine, which are shallow water systems (less than six feet) such as marshes, bogs, ponds, bottomland forests, mudflats, and sandbars; and riverine, which are rivers and streams containing flowing water in channels.

Typically, however, the term "wetlands" is used to refer to the many subcategories of palustrine wetlands, including marshes (areas of soft, wet land usually characterized by grasses or cattails), swamps (areas dominated by trees and shrubs), bogs (peat-rich, rain-fed areas), prairie potholes (depressional wetlands), mud flats (elevated muddy plains), flood plains (low lying areas next to rivers that often flood), and wet meadows (emergent wetlands that are seasonally flooded and have saturated soil). Unfortunately, because of agricultural clearing, of the original 5.6 million acres of wetlands in Indiana, only about 800,000 acres, or 15%, remain today.

It is extremely important for Hoosiers to preserve remaining wetlands not only for the wildlife that survive in some wetlands, such as muskrats, beavers, sandhill cranes, and various freshwater fish, but for themselves. Wetlands benefit people in many ways, including the improvement of water quality by "filtering, diluting, and degrading toxic wastes, excess nutrients, sediments, and other pollutants" (Miller 164). They also reduce flooding and erosion by absorbing storm water, then releasing it slowly. Finally, wetlands replenish groundwater supplies.

See related information on lakes, rivers, wetland destruction, and water pollution.


Miller, G. Tyler, Jr. Environmental Science: Working with the Earth. 8th ed. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole, 2001.

Myers, Eric. "An Endangered Natural Resource: Wetlands." The Natural Heritage of Indiana. Ed. Marion T. Jackson. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1997. 67-75.

State of Indiana. Dept. of Natural Resources. Fish and Wildlife Conservation. The Status of Wetlands in Indiana. 15 Oct. 2002 <http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/publications/inwetcon/