A swamp is a
wetlandfeaturing temporary or permanent inundation of large areas of land, by shallow bodies of water. A swamp generally has a substantial number of hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodical inundation. [ [http://www.nwrc.usgs.gov/fringe/glossary.html Swamp] (from glossary webpage of the United States Geological Survey)] The water of a swamp may be fresh wateror salt water. A swamp is also generally defined as having no substantial peatdeposits. [ [http://www.nsc.org/ehc/glossar2.htm Swamp] (from the glossary of the Environmental Health Center, National Safety Council)]
In North America, swamps are usually regarded as including a large amount of woody
vegetation, but elsewhere this may not necessarily apply, such as in African swamps dominated by papyrus. By contrast a marshin North America is a wetland without woody vegetation, or elsewhere, a wetland without woody vegetation which is shallower and has less open water surface than a swamp. A mire (or quagmire) is a low-lying wetland of deep, soft soil or mud that sinks underfoot.
Swamps are generally characterised by very slow-moving waters. They are usually associated with adjacent
rivers or lakes. In some cases, rivers become swamps for a distance. Swamps are features of areas with very low topographicrelief, although they may be surrounded by mountains.
Swamps are characterised by rich biodiversity and specialized organisms such as frogs. [ [http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/reptiles_amphibians/frogs_toads/index.html Frogs & toads] ] For instance, southeastern U.S. swamps, such as those mentioned above, feature trees such as the Bald cypress and
Water tupelo, which are adapted to growing in standing water, and animals such as the American alligator. A common speciesname in biological nomenclature is the Latin"palustris", meaning "of the swamp". Examples of this are "Quercus palustris" ( pin oak) and "Thelypteris palustris" (marsh fern).
Swamps were historically often drained to provide additional land for
agriculture, and to reduce the threat of diseases born by swamp insects and similar animals. Swamps were generally seen as useless and even dangerous. This practice of swamp draining is nowadays seen as a destruction of a very valuable ecological habitat type of which large tracts have already disappeared in many countries.
Tigris-Euphrates river systemis a large swamp and river system in southern Iraq, inhabited in part by the Marsh Arabs. It was partly drained by Saddam Husseinin the 1990s in retaliation against the Shiitetribes' revolt against his dictatorship.
In the United States
The most famous swamps in the
United Statesare the Everglades, Okefenokee Swampand the Great Dismal Swamp. The Okefenokee is located in extreme southeastern Georgia and extends slightly into northeastern Florida. The Great Dismal Swamp lies in extreme southeastern Virginiaand extreme northeastern North Carolina. Both are National Wildlife Refuges. Another swamp area, Reelfoot Lakeof extreme western Tennessee, was created by the New Madrid earthquake of 1812. Caddo Lake, the Great Dismal and Reelfoot are swamps that are centered at large lakes. Swamps are often called " bayous" in the southeastern United States, especially in the Gulf Coast region.
A swamp appears in the
coat of armsof Gesturi, Italy.
List of major swamps
Okavango Swamp, Botswana
Niger Delta, Nigeria
Asmat Swamp, Indonesia
Vasyugan Swamp, Russia
Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana, United States
Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida, United States
Great Black Swamp, Indiana/Ohio, United States
Great Cypress Swamp, Maryland, United States, also known as Great Pocomoke Swamp
Great Dismal Swamp, North Carolina/Virginia, United States
Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey, United States
Honey Island Swamp, Louisiana, United States
Limberlost, Indiana, United States
Louisiana swamplands, Louisiana, United States
Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia/Florida, United States
Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee, United States
Everglades, Florida, United States
Lahuen Ñadi, Chile
Paraná Delta, Argentina
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