Freshwater Marshes

The majority of the plant associations of freshwater marshes and wet prairie are found throughout South Florida, including the Big Cypress Swamp region, St. Johns Marsh system, Kissimmee River floodplain, Lake Okeechobee perimeter marshes, and as far southward as isolated marshes in the Florida Keys.

Besides the enormous expanse of marshes found in the Everglades region of South Florida, marsh and wet prairie communities are associated with natural depressions, the edges of natural lakes, ponds, creeks, rivers, and human-made impoundments such as borrow pits and canals. When these communities are found within the study area from Lake Okeechobee northward, they are frequently associated with lakes, creeks, and rivers, and are often described as littoral zones. Natural lakes and rivers are absent from South Florida below Lake Okeechobee (with the exception of Lake Trafford, near Immokalee, in Collier County). However, numerous artificial impoundments and lakes are common in the southern portion of the study area, in the form of canals, borrow pits, and human-made lakes.

The soils associated with marshes are histosols, composed of thick organic peat underlain by marl and/or limestone. The soils associated with wet prairies in the southeastern portion of the study area are entisols, dominated by either poorly drained marls or mixtures of marl and sand underlain by limestone. The wet prairies of the southwestern and more northern portions of the study area are either entisols, or spodosols, which are poorly drained sandy soils with loamy subsoils (Brown et al. 1990). However, frequent shifts in water management practices have created a recent history of changes in many of these soils, with layers of marl and peat reflecting variations in hydrology and decomposition rates of vegetation.

Taken from: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1999. South Florida Multi-Species Recovery Plan. Atlanta, Georgia. Pp.3:403.

Listed Species Occurring in Freshwater Marsh Habitat

  • Florida Panther
  • Key Deer
  • Lower Keys Rabbit
  • Rice Rat
  • Audubon's Crested Caracara
  • Bald Eagle
  • Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow
  • Everglades Snail Kite
  • Florida Grasshopper Sparrow
  • Wood Stork
  • Okeechobee Gourd