Pond Swamps

Dome swamps typically develop in flat karst landscapes where sand has slumped around or over a sinkhole, creating a conical depression. Larger basin swamps can occupy almost any kind of landscape depression. Many are thought to have developed in oxbows of former rivers or in ancient coastal swales and lagoons from periods with higher sea levels. Dome soils are composed of peat, which is thickest toward the center of the dome. This peat is generally underlain by acidic sands and then limestone. Some domes have a clay lens that helps retain water. Basin swamp soils are generally acidic, nutrient-poor peats, often overlying a clay lens or other impervious layer.

Dome swamps have small young pond cypress trees towards their outer edges, grading into larger and older bald cypress towards the interior, giving a dome a distinctly rounded cross-sectional profile. (Because pond cypress Taxodium ascendens and bald cypress Taxodium distichum can be recognized as clearly different in these field situations, the two names are used here. Although some authorities persist in considering these different species, most ecologists now regard them as morphological variations reflective of different growing conditions.) The typical central pond creates the doughnut shape that characterizes these systems on aerial photographs. Basin swamp structures vary. In theory, a mature system would have the wide variety of tree sizes characteristic of an old-growth forest, but logging has altered the structure of almost all such swamps. The shallow and diffuse type of basin swamp that covers most of the Big Cypress Swamp is characterized by scattered stunted bonsai-like hatrack or toy cypress, which are seldom over 3 to 4.6 m (10 to 15 ft) tall, though they are old trees and may have large buttresses.

Taken from: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1999. South Florida Multi-Species Recovery Plan. Atlanta, Georgia. Pp. 480, 482.

Listed Species Occurring in Pond Swamp Habitat

  • Florida Panther
  • Bald Eagle
  • Wood Stork
  • Everglades Snail Kite
  • Kirtland's Warbler
  • Eastern Indigo Snake
  • Okeechobee Gourd