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North American Arid West Emergent Marsh

This widespread ecological system occurs throughout much of the arid and semi-arid regions of western North America, typically surrounded by savanna, shrub steppe, steppe, or desert vegetation. Natural marshes may occur in depressions in the landscape (ponds, kettle ponds), as fringes around lakes, and along slow-flowing streams and rivers (such riparian marshes are also referred to as sloughs). Marshes are frequently or continually inundated, with water depths up to 2 m. Water levels may be stable, or may fluctuate 1 m or more over the course of the growing season. Water chemistry may include some alkaline or semi-alkaline situations, but the alkalinity is highly variable even within the same complex of wetlands. Marshes have distinctive soils that are typically mineral, but can also accumulate organic material. Soils have characteristics that result from long periods of anaerobic conditions in the soils (e.g., gleyed soils, high organic content, redoximorphic features). The vegetation is characterized by herbaceous plants that are adapted to saturated soil conditions. Common emergent and floating vegetation includes species of Scirpus and/or Schoenoplectus, Typha, Juncus, Potamogeton, Polygonum, Nuphar, and Phalaris. This system may also include areas of relatively deep water with floating-leaved plants (Lemna, Potamogeton, and Brasenia) and submergent and floating plants (Myriophyllum, Ceratophyllum, and Elodea).

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