Definitions

swamp blueberry

Swamp

[swomp]

A swamp is a wetland featuring 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. The water of a swamp may be fresh water or salt water. A swamp is also generally defined as having no substantial peat deposits.

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 marsh in 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.

Geology

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 topographic relief, although they may be surrounded by mountains.

Ecology

Swamps are characterised by rich biodiversity and specialized organisms such as frogs. 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 species name in biological nomenclature is the Latin palustris, meaning "of the swamp". Examples of this are Quercus palustris (pin oak) and Thelypteris palustris (marsh fern).

Draining

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.

Famous examples

In Iraq

The Tigris-Euphrates river system is a large swamp and river system in southern Iraq, inhabited in part by the Marsh Arabs. It was partly drained by Saddam Hussein in the 1990s in retaliation against the Shiite tribes' revolt against his dictatorship.

In the United States

The most famous swamps in the United States are the Everglades, Okefenokee Swamp and 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 Virginia and extreme northeastern North Carolina. Both are National Wildlife Refuges. Another swamp area, Reelfoot Lake of 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.

Heraldry

A swamp appears in the coat of arms of Gesturi, Italy.

List of major swamps

Africa

Asia

North America

South America

See also

References


Search another word or see swamp blueberryon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature
FAVORITES
RECENT

;