World Wetlands Day (WWD) is an annual celebration held on the 2nd February in order to raise worldwide awareness of the importance of wetlands. The date is particularly significant, marking the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands, also known as the Ramsar Convention, which is an international treaty that represents the commitment of its members to the preservation of their wetlands.
Wetlands are areas where water is a dominant feature of the habitat, and can include coastal lagoons, areas of marsh and the habitat around lakes and rivers. Wetlands make up roughly 6% of the Earth’s land surface, and are home to an incredibly diverse array of plants and animals. Here at ARKive, we thought we’d celebrate WWD by highlighting a few of the spectacular species that rely upon wetlands for their survival.
The European mudminnow inhabits slow flowing and stagnant waters, such as ditches, ponds, oxbow lakes. It is currently threatened by alterations to its wetland habitat.
Many species of dragonfly, including the purple darter, rely on wetlands in order to reproduce. Dragonfly larvae spend the first part of their life underwater, where they are ferocious predators.
Larger animals also rely on wetlands for food and shelter. The barasingha is found in reed beds and floodplains, where it feeds on grasses and aquatic plants.
Wetlands support some of the world’s most remarkable species, including the world’s largest rodent, the capybara. Feeding on grasses and aquatic vegetation, the capybara can hold its breath underwater for up to five minutes. They even mate in the water!
Many species of bird, such as these northern pintails, rely on wetlands for breeding and feeding, and will often migrate many miles to reach them.
As well as housing spectacular biodiversity, wetlands are also among the world’s most productive environments, and are important to the survival of many people. They provide water and food such as rice, which is a common wetland plant. The increasing global population is putting immense pressure on the world’s wetlands, and the Ramsar Convention aims to conserve these important habitats through a sustainable ‘wise use’ initiative.
Spotted any other wetland species on ARKive? Share them with us!
Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author