Winter and early spring is an important time for wetlands across North and South Carolina. First, wetlands are easier to find in the winter with high rainfall and no vegetation growth allowing water to sit at the surface. This standing water provides needed habitat for migrating birds and breeding amphibians. Also, lack of leaves and pesky mosquitoes make winter the perfect time to explore the different types of wetlands across the landscape.
Water Level (a.k.a. Wetland Hydrology)
Wetlands are defined by the amount, duration, and occurrence of standing water or saturated soil (referred to as wetland hydrology). Non-tidal wetlands like headwater wetlands, riverine swamps and pocosins fill with water in the winter and early spring until plants and trees start to grow and pump the water out to the atmosphere through evapotranspiration. If you explore a wetland in the winter, you may need to wear rubble boots to keep your feet dry.
Import Habitat for Migratory Birds
Wetlands across North and South Carolina provide refuge in the winter for migratory birds like snow geese and tundra swans that fly south to avoid harsh winters in the Northern US and Canada. The loss of wetlands across the Southeast US has forced some species to adapt by feeding in fallow agriculture fields. Luckily, many state and federal lands across the Coastal Plain of the Carolinas provide vital habitat for these birds and create opportunities for us to catch a glimpse of these majestic animals.
Wetlands are also critical habitat for many reptiles and amphibians because they depend on water for part of their life. Most amphibians lay eggs under water or on moist land. Once the eggs hatch, the baby amphibians must live in water until they form lungs and leave the water as adults. Eggs of some species are laid in the fall and survive in a gel-like substance until wetlands fill with water. Even as adults, wetlands are an important source of food for amphibians. Step carefully and keep your eyes looking down for signs of salamanders and other amphibians. To learn more about these creatures, join us at the NC Museum of Natural Science’s Reptile and Amphibian Day on March 14.
Go Explore a Wetland!
Wetlands in the winter are working just as hard as they are the rest of the year and provide opportunities to see species that you can’t see other times of the year. Here are some resources to help you find a wetland near you :
Wednesday, November 28, 2018 from 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Come learn about the Carolina Wetlands Association and the work the organization is doing to advance the understanding, protection and enjoyment of wetlands throughout North and South Carolina. Our 2019 calendars featuring our Wetland Treasures, magnets, and t-shirts will be available during the event.
AGENDA 5:30 Networking Time
6:00 Guest Speaker: Derb Carter, Southern Environmental Law Center
Mr. Carter will discuss the status of proposed changes the Waters of the U.S. rule and what that means for wetland protection and restoration.
6:30 Overview of the Carolina Wetlands Assocation
Learn about our efforts to get a Ramsar wetland designation in North Carolina, the Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas Program, and our effort to issue a State of the Wetlands report.
7:00 More Networking Time
7:30 Meeting Ends
Food and drinks will be provided! Please register so we know you are coming.
Prior to European colonization of North America, beaver (Castor canadensis) were abundant throughout most of the continent. Estimates of pre-colonization beaver populations are between 60 million and 200 million individuals, with at least 20 million beaver-built dams. By the year 1900, beaver had been extirpated from the eastern half of North America and the species was hanging on by small remnant populations in the west.
Reintroductions of beaver had begun in the southeastern U.S. by the 1940s. With few predators and laws regulating hunting, beaver populations in North American have rebounded. By 1983, beaver were present in 80 of 100 counties in North Carolina but were still largely absent from the Broad, French Broad, Catawba, and Pasquotank river basins—mainly the Charlotte area and the region directly to the west and north of it.
The majority of studies on beaver in North America have been conducted in the northern states and Canada. Larger scale effects found by these studies may be applicable here in the south, but many of the species-specific observations are irrelevant due to the difference in plant species between the northern and southern latitudes. This review of the literature on the impacts of beaver includes the handful of studies conducted in the southeastern U.S.; larger scale patterns observed at northern latitudes will also be discussed, but species-level observations from northern studies will only be included if they are relevant to the southeastern U.S..