Saturday, December 1, 2012

FTV 11/30/2012 Wetlands

An update from the Admiral has the Kennedy returning to its rightful place at MMA on December 15. As we await its return we become mindful of how our home here on Taylor's Point is also the home of delicate ecosystems known as wetlands.
According to a US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) document, America's Wetlands: Our Vital Link Between Land and Water, wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, comparable to rain forests and coral reefs. An immense variety of species of microbes, plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish, and mammals can be part of a wetland ecosystem. Physical and chemical features such as climate, landscape shape (topology), geology, and the movement and abundance of water help to determine the plants and animals that inhabit each wetland. The complex, dynamic relationships among the organisms inhabiting the wetland environment are referred to as food webs.
Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil for at least part of the growing season. The occurrence and flow of water (hydrology) largely determine how the soil develops and the types of plant and animal communities living in and on the soil. Wetlands may support both aquatic and terrestrial species.
Wetlands vary widely because of regional and local differences in soils, topography, climate, hydrology, water chemistry, vegetation, and other factors, including human disturbance. Indeed, wetlands are found from the tundra to the tropics and on every continent except Antarctica. Two broad categories of wetlands are recognized: tidally-influenced wetlands and non-tidal (or inland) wetlands.
Wetlands provide great volumes of food that attract many animal species. These animals use wetlands for part of or all of their life-cycle. Dead plant leaves and stems break down in the water to form small particles of organic material called "detritus." This enriched material feeds many small aquatic insects, shellfish, and small fish that are food for larger predatory fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals.
The biological, chemical, and physical operations and attributes of a wetland are known as wetland functions. Some typical wetland functions include: wildlife habitat and food chain support, surface water retention or detention, groundwater recharge, and nutrient transformation. Distinct from these intrinsic natural functions are human uses of and interaction with wetlands. Society's utilization and appraisal of wetland resources is referred to as wetland values, which include: support for commercially valuable fish and wildlife, flood control, supply of drinking water, enhancement of water quality, and recreational opportunities.
Here is an activity for you and your classmates to try, completion of this webquest will help to understand the delicate ecosystems we call wetlands.

Summarize your learning here: Brackish Tidal Marsh Wetlands

What are Wetlands?

What is a brackish tidal marsh?

Draw a tidal marsh rocky shore food web you find in Google 

Why do you think it is important to protect tidal marshes? Write 3 to 5 sentences

Try these online games