Marshes: what are they, characteristics, importance, flora and fauna

characteristics of the marshes

On our planet there are numerous types of ecosystems that stand out for having great ecological importance and for the development of biodiversity. One of the ecosystems with the greatest ecological importance that is conserved worldwide are the marshes. Marshes are quite unique ecosystems in which a great deal of information can be obtained about both the life of animals and plants. The function of the marshes is quite important in the functioning of the rest of nature and, therefore, it is necessary to conserve them.

In this article we are going to tell you everything you need to know about marshes, their importance and flora and fauna.

What are marshes



At present, due to the degrading activities of the human being, the vast majority of marshes are in serious danger from contamination. This is the reason why so many marshes have become places of community interest. A salt marshes are mixed ecosystems that have unique characteristics. The first one is that it has a high level of humidity and is composed of herbaceous plants. Most of these plants grow above the surface of the earth and below the surface of the water.

Depending on the environmental conditions and the place where they are, there are different types of marshes. We found freshwater marshes and saltwater marshes. You can also find different types depending on the location. Some of them are near the seas and others next to the rivers.

The vast majority of these ecosystems are made up of brackish water. It is a different type of water that is a mixture of salt water and fresh water. Both waters come from the rivers and the sea and connect in this environment. At an ecological level, they are ecosystems of great importance since they are home to a large amount of flora and fauna. They are also important at the human level since they are used for cultivation and other activities such as ecotourism. These are all the reasons why so many marshlands around the world are protected and admired.

Key features

marsh ecosystem

marshland ecosystem

Let’s see what are the main characteristics that these unique ecosystems have. The first of all is to know what are irregular territories where the deposited water from the sea or the mouth of the rivers is found. Depending on the proportion that exists between the different water courses, we will find sweeter or saltier water. The area where the marsh is located it is situated between the mainland and the sea.

One of the characteristics of these ecosystems is conditioned by the climate. And it is that the climate is usually quite humid and this makes it have favorable conditions for the development of biodiversity. It is for this reason that there are a large number of flora and fauna associated with these ecosystems. We know that continuous good relative humidity can help establish the ideal conditions for plants and animals to thrive.

We know that marshes are useful places is to be able to carry out various types of agricultural and cultivation activities. It must be added that the types of soil present here have a high degree of fertility that helps the development of crops with relative ease. If we do not refer to ground level and all its relief, we can say that it is not very pronounced and that it is flat. On rare occasions they exceed 10 meters in height since they are in a position close to sea level. These environmental conditions allow temperatures to be stable throughout the year.

On some occasions we can also find some marshes with less water. This means that the water is under the vegetation that has reached a greater height and is very abundant.

Among some of the main functions for which these natural ecosystems are considered very important is because they can absorb the tides that cause storms. Thanks to these ecosystems, they can prevent numerous floods in areas that are most vulnerable due to their climate or situation. The marshes are responsible for trapping a large amount of sediment, which is why they help to serve as a natural filter against pollution.

Biodiversity of marshes

Brackish water

Brackish water


Since the environmental conditions here are unique, so are many plants that live here. There are few plant species that can survive brackish water, so these ecosystems have numerous endemic species. An endemic species is one that only lives in a certain place due to its unique conditions. Although there are other favorable environmental conditions, nutrients can only be absorbed if the plant is prepared for it. The most normal thing is that halophyte plants spread in these ecosystems. They are those that can withstand salt concentrations of up to 10% with respect to the total.

All these environmental conditions prevent the growth of some of the plants that are not native to the marshes. Therefore, the number of invasive plants in these ecosystems is usually low. There are 4 large groups or formations of vegetation in the marshes. Are the seagrass meadows, espartinales, succulent communities and shrub halophyte communities. Among the best known plant species in the marshes we have the black juniper, the mastic, the rockrose or the rosemary.


Within the biodiversity of the marshes we also have a large amount of fauna. Depending on the area where the marsh is going to develop, we find different types of fauna. We can find species ranging from groups of mammals to amphibians or invertebrates. The animals that are found in greater abundance are birds. And it is that these animals use the marshes as places of immigration and to be able to nest. Another of the uses that is given is to be able to regain strength during long migratory trips. The most common birds found in marshes are the gulls, the storks, the harrier, the osprey, the common heron and the gray heron.

Other invertebrate animals known in these ecosystems are clams, snails, mussels and crabs. As the most representative mammals we have rabbits, deer, lynx, rats, mice, raccoons and wild boars. The most abundant fish are salmon, aligote and sole.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the marshes and their characteristics.

Marshes: what are they, characteristics, importance, flora and fauna

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