Wet Prairies

Everglades Marsh

Everglades marsh. Photo courtesy South Florida Water Management District

  • Dominant vegetation is emergent plants
  • Hydroperiods range from 3-7 months each year
  • Species diversity is high

Wet prairies, dominated by emergent plants including grasses and other low growing plants, support a greater diversity of species than other types of marshes. In these habitats, low vegetation density results in larger areas of open water habitat. Due to close proximity to other types of habitats, including pinelands and hammocks, wet prairies attract a variety of wildlife.

Young Apple Snail

Young apple snail. Photo courtesy South Florida Water Management District

Freshwater marl prairies are supported by thin, calcareous soils also referred to as "marl" underlain by limestone bedrock. Occasionally the limestone bedrock breaks through the marl soils, forming jagged projections called pinnacle rock. Solution holes, in contrast, are areas where the limestone bedrock has been dissolved below the soil resulting in open areas. Located along both the eastern and western portions of the Everglades, marl prairies have a short hydroperiod of only 3-7 months a year.

Spike Rush

Spike rush. Photo courtesy South Florida Water Management District

Deeper water marshes can also be found within the Everglades region. These marshes lie over rich peat soils and have a longer hydroperiod than marl prairies. Often located between sawgrass marshes and sloughs, these habitats are common in the north and central regions of the Everglades. These habitats provide habitat for fish, waterfowl, and other wildlife that require a permanent source of water.

Great Egret

Great egret. Photo courtesy South Florida Water Management District

Glossary terms used on page:

  • emergent: plants rooted in bottom substrate, extending upwards above the water surface.
  • diversity: refers to the variety of species within a given association, areas of high diversity are characterized by a great variety of species.
  • calcareous: containing characteristics of calcium carbonate, calcium, or limestone.
  • marl: earthy, loose deposit consisting mainly of calcium carbonate mixed with clay.
  • solution hole: depression in the Earth’s surface caused by dissolving of substrate composed primarily of calcium carbonate.
  • peat: partially decayed plant matter formed on the surface of water-logged soils, used as a fertilizer, fuel, or in the production of charcoal.
  • hydroperiod: the period of time during which a wetland is covered by water.