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
See related information on lakes,
destruction, and water
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/