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Wetlands can have significant impacts on the quality, composition, and ground cover of certain terrestrial areas. In several ways, wetlands help reduce the effects of erosion on upland areas. The relative stability of the substrate plays a large role in the composition of upland ecologies.

Because of their sponge-like qualities, wetlands located at the head of the watershed act as reservoirs, capturing precipitation and releasing it more gradually. This slows runoff rates and decreases sheet erosion on exposed soils. Wetlands located at the base of a drainage area can capture soil that has eroded off the land. This prevents the soil from entering the main streams of the watershed. Reducing the amount of soil eroded from the land and recovering soil that is eroded benefits the landowner and reduces siltation problems further downstream (Admiraal et al. 1997, Illinois Department of Natural Resources 1997, and Mitsch and Gosselink 1986).

Wetlands located along the banks of lakes and rivers help to buffer waves, protecting shorelines and the upland areas behind them. Vegetation in these wetlands dissipates the energy of waves by acting as a barrier between the source of the wave and the shoreline. The root systems of these plants also play a major role in helping retain soils along the banks. Shorelines protected by these buffering wetlands tend to erode less and remain stable (Admiraal et al. 1997, Illinois Department of Natural Resources 1997, and Mitsch and Gosselink 1986).

[ Introduction | Biological Functions | Threatened & Endangered Species | Hydrological Functions |  Water Quality | Ground Water Recharge | Terrestrial Functions | Aesthetics & Recreation   |  Economics | Conclusion]

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 Wetlands Home Page
 Understanding Wetlands
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 Illinois Wetland Types
 National Wetland Inventory
 Glossary Acronyms
 Literature Cited

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