This article was originally published on Oceanbites.
“Wetlands are one of the world’s powerhouses for ecosystem services, filtering our water, controlling coastal erosion, and providing feeding and nursery habitat for a huge variety of wildlife. They are super productive, containing plant species that grow fast and therefore contribute a huge influx of organic material to the system when they die and start to decompose.
These dominant plant communities, typically grasses and sedges in most wetlands, also form dense mats of standing or floating material that stabilize an otherwise dynamic system. Water is strained through a network of alive and decaying plant matter that acts like a huge cheesecloth, slowing its movement and removing suspended sediment.
Taken up by the plants, once water-borne nutrients eventually cycle their way down to macroinvertebrates and other organisms that consume the plants, all of course with the help of nutrient fixing soil microbes. The system is so effective, water at the end of the wetland comes out significantly cleaner than it went in, having been stripped of its sediment and most attached nutrients. In an attempt to mimic some of these processes, water quality managers are increasingly turning to constructed wetlands to filter urban, industrial, and agricultural runoff.
When effective, they use the same biotic and abiotic processes of natural wetland vegetation, soils, and microbial communities to remove large amounts of sediment, organic contaminants, and heavy metals from water bound for human consumption or return to the ocean…”
Read on at: Oceanbites.