Wetland Teminology

A few weeks ago our topic was “So what exactly is a wetland?”
This week we will define some of the terminology commonly associated with wetlands.

Aerobic: Occurring in the presence of free oxygen, either as a gas in the atmosphere or dissolved in water.

Alkaline: Water or soil with a pH greater than 7.4.

Anaerobic: Occurring in conditions devoid of oxygen.

Annual flood: Flooding occurs at least once in most years.

Canopy: Cover of branches and leaves formed collectively by the crowns of trees, shrubs or other plants.

Capillary action: Particles attract soil moisture and surface tension is strong enough to cause moisture to rise up through the soil, above the water table.

Capillary: In a soil, the fine spaces between soil particles.

Climax community: A self-perpetuating community whose species composition is expected to be relatively stable and long lasting.

Closed basin or pond: Basin receives water from surrounding upland only, no inlet or outlet channel.

Dominant species: The structurally most dominant species within a site or the species which contributes greatest vegetation cover to the community.

Drawdown: Decrease in water level of lakes or steams, exposing substrate that is normally submerged.

Dwarf shrub: Plants with woody stems that are generally less than 15 cm tall at maturity.

Emergents: Upright plants rooted in water or exposed to seasonal flooding, emerging above water surface. Does not include some submergents which normally lie entirely underwater but have flowering parts which break the surface.

Eutrophic: Very rich nutritional status, abundant supply of nutrients.

Floating mat: Mat of peat held together by roots and rhizomes underlain by water or fluid, loose peat.

Floating-leaved plants: Rooted or free-floating plants with leaves normally floating on water surface.

Flooding: Surface inundation by moderate to fast moving water. Usually associated with sedimentation and erosion.

Fluvial: Sites occurring along flowing water courses, the water course itself, and the surrounding (riparian) terrain and vegetation. Subject to flooding and sedimentation processes.

Frequent flooding: Flood return interval of 2-5 years.

Gleyed: A soil condition resulting from prolonged soil saturation, which is manifested by the presence of bluish or greenish colors throughout the soil mass or in mottles (usually orange spots or streaks).

Graminoid: Plants with a grass-like growth form including rushes (Juncaceae), grasses (Poaceae), and sedges (Cyperaceae).

Groundwater: Water passing through or standing in soil and underlying strata. Free to move by gravity.

Herb: Non-woody vascular plants.

Humic: Highly decomposed organic material. Small amounts of fiber can be identified to botanical origin.

Hummock: A mound composed of organic materials. Often peat, Sphagnum or other moss.

Humus: Dead and decaying organic material at the soil surface.

Hydric: A site where water removed so slowly that water table is at or above the soil surface all year OR a Gleysol or Organic soil.

Hydrogeomorphic Classification: Classification of wetland and riparian ecosystems based on hydrological and geomorphological features and processes.

Hydrophytic plant species: Any plant adapted for growing on permanently saturated soils deficient in oxygen.

Hypereutrophic: Sites with very high salinity or alkalinity.

Inundation: Surface flooding by standing or slow moving water.

Lacustrine: Sites adjacent to lakes and ponds directly affected by lake wave action, sedimentation, and flooding.

Marl: Sediments composed of shells of aquatic animals and CaCO3 precipitated in water.

Microtopography: Small scale (i.e. < 2 m) variations in surface elevation (e.g. hummocks and hollows).

Moderately acidic: Having a soil pH value between 4.5 and 5.5.

Moist: No soil water deficit occurs. Current need for water does not exceed supply, temporary groundwater table may be present.

Neutral pH: Having a soil pH value between 6.5 and 7.4. Available base cation concentration is high enough to buffer acidic conditions.

Occasional flooding: Flood interval greater than 5 years.

Oligotrophic: Relatively poor in nutrients.

Palustrine: Basins, depression, slopes, and small water bodies with a continually high water table and poor drainage Wetland landscape units.

Peat: Partly decomposed plant material deposited under saturated soil conditions.

Rarely flooded: Flooding occurs only during extreme events.

Riparian: Along the bank of a river or lake.

Saline: The presence of soluble salts in the soil parent material. Salts are commonly visible as crystals or veins, or surface crusts but sometimes are not evident morphologically. The presence of salt-tolerant plants is a good indicator of excessive salts in the soil.

Saturated: A soil condition in which all voids (pore spaces) between soil particles are filled with water.

Seepage: Groundwater discharge having less flow than a spring.

Shrub: Perennial plants usually with more than one low-branching woody stem and < 10 m tall.

Slightly acidic: Having a soil pH value of 5.5 to 6.5.

Stand: A plant community that is relatively uniform in composition, structure and habitat conditions.

Submergents: Plants which normally lie entirely beneath water. Some species can have flowering parts which break water surface.

Succession: Replacement of one community by another; often progresses to a stable terminal community called the climax.

Treed: Having >10% canopy cover of tree species > 2 m tall.

Very acidic: Having a soil pH value less than 4.5. Low concentration of available base cations.

Very moist: Rooting-zone groundwater present during the growing season (water supply exceeds demand). Groundwater table > 30 cm deep.

Very wet: Groundwater table at or above the ground surface throughout most of the growing season

Water table: The upper surface of the zone of saturation within the soil profile.

Wet: Rooting-zone groundwater present during the growing season (water supply exceeds demand). Groundwater table > 0 cm but < 30 cm deep.

Deffinitions cited from:
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