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Florida 4-H Forest Ecology

Florida 4-H Forest Ecology

Freshwater Swamps

Where fresh, shallow water covers the land (either seasonally or for longer time periods), special ecosystems develop. These wet areas support plants and animals that have special adaptations for living between dry land and deeper water.  Thus, freshwater swamps are often described as low-lying forested regions that absorb floodwaters and run-off from the land around them. They are distinguished from other types of wetlands such as marshes and bogs, by the dominating presence of trees and shrubs.  

Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. They are sometimes described as "nature’s kidneys," because they have been found to protect shoreline, prevent floods, clean polluted water, and recharge groundwater aquifers. Wetlands also play a large part in the landscape by providing a unique habitat for a variety of plants and animals. Forty-three percent of threatened and endangered species depend on wetlands for their survival. In addition, wetlands support recreation activities such as bird watching and photography of wetland birds. Ecotourism activities in wetland ecosystems add about $60 billion to the national economy each year.

Swamps have an eerie beauty all their own. At first glance, a swamp may seem to be a quiet, stagnant place. However, if you sit and listen to the subtle sounds, you will find that it is teeming with life and activity. In fact, a swamp at night is alive with the songs of frogs and insects. Swamps are mysterious ecosystems that are difficult to explore due to the often-saturated terrain and frequently changing water levels. Thick, wet mud and murky waters make it hard for biologists to move around. Wildlife - such as alligators and poisonous snakes - add dangerous risks to studying these fascinating wetlands. There is still much to learn about swamps and the plants and animals that are found there, but it is clear that swamps provide important environmental and economic benefits.

  • For the Contest

    Each year the contest takes on two ecosystems on a four-year rotation. At this station, when freshwater swamps is one of the featured ecosystems:

    • Juniors and Intermediates will answer multiple choice and true/false questions about each ecosystem.
      • To prepare, Juniors should read/watch the ecosystem slides; Intermediates should read the ecosystem description. 
    • Intermediates may be asked multiple choice and true/false questions that reference the four representative plant species for freshwater swamps:

    1) loblolly bay
    2) pond cypress
    3) swamp tupelo
    4) titi

    Junior Slides: 2023/2024 Ecosystem Slides

    Intermediate Description: Freshwater Swamp Description