Because the state-of-being for a wetland lies between that of water and land, wetlands offer unique habitat.
- The wetland ecosystem provides food, water and shelter for all kinds of animals:
- Invertebrates that live all or part of their lives under water, such as mosquitoes and dragonflies.
- Amphibians, such as frogs, that breed, feed and hide from the hard winter weather in the water.
- Reptiles, such as water snakes, that feed on the many other animals that make wetlands their home.
- Mammals, such as muskrats, that feed on wetland plants and use them to build a home for sheltering their young.
- Wetlands provide habitat for many types of plants. These include familiar ones, such as cattails and arrowroots, as well as less-familiar plants, such as carnivorous sundews.
- Wetlands also play an important role in purifying the water. Contaminants settle to the bottom in the slow-moving water. Wetland plants often store contaminants in their tissues, after having drawn them in through their roots along with the water.
Phalaropes frequent wetlands.
Phalaropes are wetland birds that spin in circles on the water in order to create a small whirlpool. The action draws underwater invertebrate prey, such as tiny crustaceans and small insects, up to the surface.
The bird then plucks the prey with its beak. Or, it uses the water to move food particles along its beak.
Video (29 sec.)
Can you guess which organ of your body is most like a wetland?