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Formation Detail Report: F030
Tropical Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland Formation

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Tropical Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland includes freshwater wet meadows, shallow and deep emergent marshes, with the upper limits of salinity at 0.5 ppt, above which it is considered saltwater. The vegetation comprises evergreen emergent aquatic macrophytes, chiefly graminoids such as rushes, reeds, grasses and sedges, and shrubs and other herbaceous species such as broad-leaved emergent macrophytes, floating-leaved and submergent species, and nonvascular plants such as brown mosses, liverworts, and macroscopic algae. It is found widely throughout wetland habitats of the tropical latitudes, from the equator to about 23°N and S.
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Translated Name:Tropical Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland Formation
Colloquial Name:Tropical Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Tropical Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland includes wet meadows, shallow and deep emergent marshes. These wetlands have shallow water and levels that usually fluctuate daily, seasonally or annually due to tides (freshwater tidal), flooding, evapotranspiration, groundwater recharge, or seepage losses, with the upper limits of salinity at 0.5 ppt, above which it is considered saltwater. The vegetation comprises evergreen emergent aquatic macrophytes, chiefly graminoids such as rushes, reeds, grasses and sedges, and shrubs and other herbaceous species such as broad-leaved emergent macrophytes, floating-leaved and submergent species, and nonvascular plants such as brown mosses, liverworts, and macroscopic algae. Vegetation is usually arranged in distinct zones of parallel or concentric patterns in response to gradients of water depth, frequency of drawdown, water chemistry or disturbance. Saline or brackish non-tidal marshes are included here. Seasonal drawdowns may expose mudflats which are revegetated by pioneering herb and grass species. The vegetation of seasonal marshes is dynamic. It shifts spatially with water levels and changes in composition over a short time, whereas the vegetation of semipermanent marshes usually is more stable, represented by stands of reeds which may persist for many years in the absence of severe drought.
The vegetation comprises evergreen emergent aquatic macrophytes, chiefly graminoids such as rushes, reeds, grasses and sedges, and shrubs and other herbaceous species such as broad-leaved emergent macrophytes, floating-leaved and submergent species, and nonvascular plants such as brown mosses, liverworts, and macroscopic algae, with tree cover <10%, with the upper limits of salinity at 0.5 ppt, above which it is considered saltwater, and where freezing temperatures are rare to absent.
Vegetation Hierarchy
Name:Database Code:Classification Code:
Class 2 Shrub & Herb Vegetation C02 2
Subclass 2.C Shrub & Herb Wetland S44 2.C
Formation 2.C.3 Tropical Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland F030 2.C.3
Division 2.C.3.Ob Polynesian-Eastern Melanesian Freshwater Marsh D019 2.C.3.Ob
Division 2.C.3.Ef Caribbean-Mesoamerican Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland D262 2.C.3.Ef
Further review is needed of the similarities and differences between temperate and tropical freshwater marshes.
Synonomy: > Freshwater Marshes (Mitsch and Gosselink 2000) [Both tropical and temperate marshes are treated together, and inland saline marshes are included here too, and both emergent and aquatic vegetation.]
> Nontidal Freshwater Marshes (Roth 2009) [It is not clear whether non-tidal salt marshes are included here. Both tropical and temperate marshes are treated together.]
> Tidal Freshwater Marshes (Roth 2009) [Both tropical and temperate marshes are treated together.]
> Tidal Freshwater Marshes (Mitsch and Gosselink 2000) [Both tropical and temperate marshes are treated together, and both emergent and aquatic vegetation.]

Related Type Name:

Short Citation:
  • Faber-Langendoen et al. 2015c
  • Mitsch and Gosselink 2000
  • National Wetlands Working Group 1997
  • Roth 2009
States/Provinces:
Nations:PR, US
Range:This formation is found widely throughout wetland habitats of the tropical latitudes, from the equator to about 23°N and S.
US Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name:
Division Name:
Province Name:
Province Code:   Occurrence Status:
Section Name:
Section Code:     Occurrence Status:
Tropical Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland vegetation predominantly comprises evergreen emergent aquatic macrophytes, chiefly graminoids such as rushes, reeds, grasses and sedges, and shrubs and other herbaceous species such as broad-leaved emergent macrophytes, floating-leaved and submergent species, and nonvascular plants such as brown mosses, liverworts, and macroscopic algae. There is a greater proportion of evergreen herbaceous plants in this tropic type, as compared to the temperate type. Vegetation is usually arranged in distinct zones of parallel or concentric patterns in response to gradients of water depth, frequency of drawdown, water chemistry or disturbance. Seasonal drawdowns may expose mudflats that are revegetated by pioneering herb and grass species.
These wetlands have shallow water and levels that usually fluctuate daily, seasonally or annually due to tides (freshwater tidal), flooding, evapotranspiration, groundwater recharge, or seepage losses. Salinity is 0.5 ppt, above which it is considered saltwater. Seasonal drawdowns may occur.

The occurrence of large savanna extensions in flat land (Orinoco basin and Beni savannas), as well as of numerous lakes in the Amazon basin, create some unique tropical geomorphological settings that in the seasonal savannas are occupied by permanent marshes dominated by herbs such as Cyperus giganteus and Thalia geniculata, and seasonally inundated savannas that are dominated by grasses (Hymenachne amplexicaulis, Panicum mertensii, Paspalum fasciculatum). The vegetation surrounding the Amazonian lakes varies from flooded forest to dense aquatic vegetation formations, and the freshwater marshes belong to the more stable conditions in this gradient created by the river's dynamics.
Moderate
Plant communities of seasonal marshes are dynamic. They shift spatially with water levels, and change in composition over a short time, whereas communities of semipermanent marshes usually are more stable, represented by stands of reeds which may persist for many years in the absence of severe drought.
Authors:
C. Josse and D. Faber-Langendoen, after National Wetlands Working Group (1997)      Version Date: 17Oct2014


References:
  • Faber-Langendoen, D., T. Keeler-Wolf, D. Meidinger, C. Josse, A. Weakley, D. Tart, G. Navarro, B. Hoagland, S. Ponomarenko, J.-P. Saucier, G. Fults, and E. Helmer. 2015c. Classification and description of world formation types. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-000. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fort Collins, CO.
  • Mitsch, W. J., and J. G. Gosselink. 2000. Wetlands. Third edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York. 920 pp.
  • National Wetlands Working Group. 1997. Wetlands of Canada. C. D. A. Rubec, editor. Ecological Land Classification Series No. 24. Environment Canada, Ottawa, and Polyscience Publications, Inc., Montreal. 452 pp.
  • Roth, R. A. 2009. Freshwater aquatic biomes. Greenwood Press, Westport, CT.


USNVC Credits: Detailed Description of the National Vegetation Classification Types

Date Accessed:

To cite a description:
Author(s). publicationYear. Description Title [last revised revisionDate]. United States National Vegetation Classification. Federal Geographic Data Committee, Washington, D.C.

About spatial standards:
The United States Federal Geographic Data Committee (hereafter called the FGDC) is tasked to develop geospatial data standards that will enable sharing of spatial data among producers and users and support the growing National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), acting under the Office of Management Budget (OMB) Circular A-16 (OMB 1990, 2000) and Executive Order #12906 (Clinton 1994) as amended by Executive Order #13286 (Bush 2003). FGDC subcommittees and working groups, in consultation and cooperation with state, local, tribal, private, academic, and international communities, develop standards for the content, quality, and transferability of geospatial data. FGDC standards are developed through a structured process, integrated with one another to the extent possible, supportable by the current vendor community (but are independent of specific technologies), and publicly available.

About this document
This document contains type descriptions at the Formation level of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification. These descriptions were primarily written by NatureServe ecologists in collaboration with Federal Geographic Data Committee Vegetation Subcommittee and a wide variety of state, federal and private partners as a part of the implementation of the National Vegetation Classification. Formation descriptions were written by the Hierarchy Revisions Working Group. The descriptions are based on consultation with natural resource professionals, published literature, and other vegetation classification systems. The Ecological Society of America's Panel on Vegetation Classification is responsible for managing the review and formal adoption of these types into the National Vegetation Classification. Partners involved in the implementation of the USNVC include:

U.S. Government
  • Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Department of Commerce (DOC)
  • Department of Defense (DOD)
  • Department of the Interior (USDI)
  • Forest Service (FS) - Chair
  • National Agriculture Statistical Service (NASS)
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
  • U.S. Navy (NAVY)
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
  • National Park Service (NPS)
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Non U.S. Government
  • NatureServe (NS)
  • Ecological Society of America (ESA)

Disclaimer:
Given the dynamic nature of the standard, it is possible a type description is incomplete or in revision at the time of download; therefore, users of the data should track the date of access and read the revisions section of the USNVC.org website to understand the current status of the classification. While USNVC data have undergone substantial review prior to posting, it is possible that some errors or inaccuracies have remained undetected.

For information on the process used to develop these descriptions see:

Faber-Langendoen, D., T. Keeler-Wolf, D. Meidinger, D. Tart, B. Hoagland, C. Josse, G. Navarro, S. Ponomarenko, J.-P. Saucier, A. Weakley, P. Comer. 2014. EcoVeg: A new approach to vegetation description and classification. Ecological Monographs 84:533-561 (erratum 85:473).

Franklin, S., D. Faber-Langendoen, M. Jennings, T. Keeler-Wolf, O. Loucks, A. McKerrow, R.K. Peet, and D. Roberts. 2012. Building the United States National Vegetation Classification. Annali di Botanica 2: 1-9.

Jennings, M. D., D. Faber-Langendoen, O. L. Louckes, R. K. Peet, and D. Roberts. 2009. Standards for associations and alliances of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification. Ecological Monographs 79(2):173-199.

FGDC [Federal Geographic Data Committee]. 2008. Vegetation Classification Standard, FGDC-STD-005, Version 2. Washington, DC., USA. [http://www.fgdc.gov/standards/projects/FGDC-standards-projects/vegetation/NVCS_V2_FINAL_2008-02.pdf]

For additional information contact:

  • Implementation of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification Standard - Alexa McKerrow (amckerrow@usgs.gov)
  • NatureServe's Development of NVC Type Descriptions - Don Faber-Langendoen (don_faber- langendoen@natureserve.org)
  • Ecological Society of America's Review of the Type Descriptions Scott.Franklin@unco.edu
  • Federal Geographic Data Committee - Vegetation Subcommittee's Activities - Marianne Burke (mburke@fs.fed.us)