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adaptation- Evolutionary process by which an organism becomes better suited to live in a particular environment. How a species changes over time to better live in a particular environment.

anoxic- Without oxygen.


bog- A wetland ecosystem that is highly acidic and has an accumulation of decomposed plants known as peat.

buffer zone- The area of land next to a body of water, where activities such as construction are restricted in order to protect the water.

buttress- Broadened bottom of a tree trunk that helps to stabilize a tree growing in wet soil or water.

- Any tree or shrub that has cones (pine trees). 


deciduous- Any plant that sheds its leaves annually.

- Decaying organic matter found in the top layer of soil or mixed with wetland waters; a food source for many small wetland organisms.

dormant- Period when a plant is not actively growing, but is still alive.  For most wetland plants this happens in the winter


endangered species- Any species of plant or animal that is having trouble surviving and reproducing.  This is often caused by loss of habitat, not enough food, or pollution.  Endangered species are protected by the government in an effort to keep them from becoming extinct.

ecosystem- A network of plants and animals that live together and depend on each other for survival.

emergent- Soft stemmed plants that grow above the water level.

erosion- Process in which land is worn away by external forces, such as wind, water, or human activity.

estuary- A partly enclosed bay where salty ocean water is mixed with freshwater.

evergreen- Any plant that keeps its leaves throughout the year.


freshwater- Water without salt, like ponds and streams.


gleyed soil- Mineral wetland soil that is or was always wet; this results in soil colors of gray, greenish gray, or bluish gray.


habitat- The environment in which an organism lives.

hydric soil- Soil that is wet long enough for anoxic (oxygenless) conditions to develop. The water in the soil forces air out. This soil is found in wetlands.

hydrophyte- A plant, and often must, live in water.


knee- A part of the root of a wetland tree which emerges from the water in which the tree is growing.


mangrove forest- Wetland in tropical areas, such as the coasts of Africa, Mexico, Australia, that has mangrove trees and either fresh or salt water.


non-persistent plant- Species of plants whose above ground growth breaks down when the plant goes dormant.


organic material- Anything that is living or was living; in soil it is usually made up of nuts, leaves, twigs, bark, etc.

organism- A living thing.


peat- Organic material (leaves, bark, nuts) that has decayed partially.  It is dark brown with identifiable plant parts, and can be found in peatlands and bogs.

persistent emergent plant- Species of plants whose stems show above the water and do not deteriorate when the plant goes dormant (e.g. cattails).

pollution- Waste, often made by humans, that damages the water, the air, and the soil.

precipitation- Rain, sleet, hail, snow.


rhizome- A special underground part of the stem of a plant form which may grow new plants.

riparian forest- A swamp that is narrow in width and runs along the shore of a river or stream.

runoff- Rainwater that flows over the land and into streams and lakes; it often picks up soil particles along the way and brings them into the streams and lakes.


salinity- The amount of salt in water.

salt marsh- Flat land that is flooded by salt water brought in by tides; it is found along rivers, bays, and oceans.

saltwater- Water with salt in it, such as in oceans.

saturation-The condition in which soil contains as much water as it can hold.

SAV- See submerged aquatic vegetation.

silt- One of three main parts of soil (sand, silt, and clay); silt is small rock particles that are between .05 mm and .002 mm in diameter.

staining- Dark brown marks left on trees and on the ground made by water.

submerged aquatic vegetation- Plants that live entirely under water.

- A wetland that has trees and shrubs.


top soil- The top layer of soil; it is full of organic material and good for growing crops.


water table- The highest level of soil that is saturated by water.

watershed - All the water from precipitation (snow, rain, etc.) that drains into a particular body of water (stream, pond, river, bay, etc.)

wetland- Land that is saturated with water and which contains plants and animals that are adapted to living on, near, or in water. Wetlands have special hydric soils and are usually located between a body of water and land.