The Everglades: Unique Wetland Ecosystem

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The Everglades is a unique wetland ecosystem on the margin of the tropics. Its slow flow of water supports grasslands, thick forests, and a diverse group of animal, fish, and bird. The Everglades originated between 8000 to 10,000 years ago at the end of the most recent of the ice age. The melting of the glaciers caused the sea levels to rise and form a low-lying basin into a swamp.

The climate of the Everglades is tropical savanna caused by hot, wet summers and warm, dry winters. The average annual rainfall exceeds 50 inches. Cypress, mangrove thickets, palms, live oaks, pines and lush vegetation cover the numerous inlets. Wildlife, although severely reduced in number and diversity over the past century, is still abundant and includes alligators, American crocodiles, deer, wading birds, fish, snakes, and the endangered Florida panther.

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American crocodiles and alligators pretty much rule this amazing ecosystem and are no doubt at the top of the food chain. The American crock and the alligator are very much alike and many ways. The primary distinguishing feature between the two is seen in the snout, because alligators it is rounded but the crock’s is more pointed. Also the crocks lower fourth tooth fits into a groove in the side upper jaw and, unlike the alligator, this tooth is visible with the mouth closed. An adult crock will grow to be about 10-12 feet.

The diet of the two are a variety of foods including insects, crabs, crayfish, fish, frogs, snails, turtles, snakes, coots, grebes, wading birds, raccoons, otters, deer, and other alligators and crock’s. They also feed on dead animals although they are carnivorous, they are occasionally seen uprooting vegetation evidently they do not eat the plant material, and may be catching crayfish, snails, and insects.

White pelicans are amazing birds and weighing 10-13 pounds they have the second greatest wingspan of any bird in North America. It’s hard to believe that these monstrosities can soar with the grace of flying ballerinas. These birds migrate a long distance in the summer to the interior lakes of U.S. and Canada. Before leaving, breeding adults develop a horny plate or knob on their bills, believed to be a target for the other adults when they arrive. White pelicans main diet is fish but occasionally will feed on insects and some vegetation.

Tarpon are found on both sides of the Atlantis and range as far north as Nova Scotia, and extended southward to Brazil. Spawning may occur in Florida from May to September in shallow estuarine waters. One of the most prolific of fishes, a female may contain up to 12 million eggs. Although predatory, feeding on mullets, silversides, marine catfish, blue crabs, and insects Tarpon are usually caught by fisherman using dead fish for bait. One recorded Florida specimen was 8 feet long and weight 350 pounds. Crocks, gators, and even birds also eat tarpon.

There are hundreds of insects and, spiders, and other small creatures in the Everglades. Some of the main insects are Dragonflies, Lubber Grasshoppers, and Mosquitoes. Dragonflies feed on other insects like Mosquitoes for protein. Grasshoppers feed on plants and vegetation. Mosquitoes drink the blood of humans, reptiles, and mammals.

It takes 1000+ insects to feed the creatures of this ecosystem and 100 fish to feed the higher creatures of the ecosystem and 10 birds to feed the carnivores of this ecosystem. There are much more organisms needed at the lower levels because the organisms are usually smaller and the higher the bigger so the higher need more and have more capacity for food.

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The Everglades: Unique Wetland Ecosystem. (2018, Jun 29). Retrieved from

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