Scientists Say: Wetland

This is an area that’s inundated with water at least part of the time


This alligator is hanging out in a wetland.


Wetland (noun, “WET-land”)

A wetland is an area of land that is completely soaked with water or flooded. It can be soaked all year round, or just for a season or two. Marshes, swamps and bogs are all different kinds of wetland. But wetlands are more than just a flooded piece of land. They are their own kinds of ecosystems. Wetlands can be inland, or on coasts. They can be freshwater like a swamp or saltwater like a salt marsh. They can even be a brackish mixture of the two, like a mangrove forest.

Wetlands play important roles. They filter pollutants from the water as it flows from streams and rivers toward lakes and oceans. They protect the shoreline from washing away during coastal storms, such as hurricanes. Wetlands are also important shelters and feeding grounds for animals including baby shrimp, oysters and fish.

In a sentence

Alligators can hang out in fresh or saltwater wetlands — and have been caught dining on sharks.

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Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.

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