Thrust Areas Ecosystem Water Institute Classification Level
Water, Land Use and Ecosystems Water and Climate Water and Society Water Resources Sustainability Springs Wetlands Watersheds Aquifers Lakes Coastal Zone  Water Institute Classification 1  Water Institute Classification 2  Water Institute Classification 3  Water Institute Classification 4
Ecosystem: Wetlands

Approximately 6% of Earth's land surface (about 2 billion acres or 800 million hectares), is covered by wetlands. The United States contains about 12% of the world’s wetlands (about 274 million acres or 111 million hectares). The importance of the role of wetlands at landscape, regional, and global scales is much greater than their relatively small area would indicate. Although wetlands are one of the most productive ecosystems on the earth, their functions and values have only been recognized by society in the past three decades. Important wetland functions include water filtration, flood and storm control, ground water recharge and discharge, production of food and fiber, carbon and other nutrient storage, and habitat and routes for animal and plant migration. Current estimates of the total global value of these goods and services provided by coastal and freshwater wetlands is $15.5 trillion or some 46% of the estimated total value of goods and services provided by all ecosystems worldwide. Approximately 25% of the land area of Florida currently exists as wetlands, and although Florida has lost almost 50% of its historic wetlands, the diversity that remains is remarkable. Some examples of Florida’s wetland ecosystems include the well known Everglades dominated by sawgrass ridges, water lily and grass/sedge sloughs, and mangrove swamps and seagrass meadows along the coasts. In the subtropics of South Florida, diverse cypress and hardwood dominated strands can be found where endemic orchids, bromeliads and epiphytic mosses flourish. In much of the central and northern part of the state, isolated cypress ponds and cypress domes dot the Pine Flatwoods and urban landscapes. Where fire is less frequent in north Florida and the panhandle, floodplain forest are dominated by second growth cypress and hardwood species. Also in the panhandle, wet prairie and cypress savannah wetlands can be found that are very low in nutrients, but rich in carnivorous plant species. Coastal wetlands are prominent along Florida’s 2,276 mile tidal shoreline with mangrove swamps in the southern part of the peninsula, and extensive salt marshes dominating the low energy Gulf coast and inland waterways. This incredible diversity of wetlands with the state provides an almost unlimited opportunity for research on range of topics related to hydrology, biogeochemistry, biotic communities, wildlife, and other related areas.

Wetlands Projects