Wetlands Work Wonders!

Wetlands Work Wonders! for nature - Noah's Ark is alive
 

According to its simplest definition, biodiversity is the multiplicity and uniqueness of every living organism and the network of connections and links created by these organisms. This almost endless variety and uniqueness are due to the perfect adaptation of organisms to the environment in which they live. No organism unable to meet this requirement can live or pass on the genes. Because in the race for food, territory, partner, light or life –win only the best, the strongest, the wisest or the fittest. For the rest there is no room. This has happened since the dawn of life on our planet, and it will keep on happening so after we disappear from its surface. Every place on earth has its unique inhabitants and the heavier the conditions, the more specialized and perfectly adapted are the organisms that live there. No different is it with wetlands. Here - at the interface between land and water, in a place where seasonal flooding is a normal thing and every dry piece of land is at a premium, organisms have evolved unusual, often astonishing adaptations. Nowhere else will you find spiders moving across water surface as does Polish largest spider - bagnik nadwodny (great raft spider) or diving in search of prey like topic (diving bell spider). Only here will you see tundra vole, a rodent which lives like fish in water. It's our equivalent of South American coypu - only a hundred times smaller.
 

Wetlands are also home to European elk - our largest mammal after bison. And though from afar an elk seems odd and clumsy - nothing could be further from truth. Anyway such is our impression on dry and hard ground - that is where elk do not like to visit. Their long legs ended with broad hooves are perfect when you tread on shaky wet ground. The long neck and big head is ideal for plucking marsh vegetation - even under water! Their adaptation is completed by a great swimming talent and even, if necessary, the ability to dive.
 

The marshes are unbeatable for birds diversity. Beginning with birds the size of a sparrow, whose strange and even disturbing songs amaze us. And their names are as mysterious as they are. Because – can we really imagine how the Aquatic Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Savi’s Warbler, Reed Bunting, or Grasshopper Warbler look like? At this point it is worth noting that many of them do not sound quite as expected of "normal" singing birds. Instead of beautiful flute song and trills we hear a loud, persistent and endlessly repeated ticking, rattling, drumming, squeaking ...
 

The marshes are unbeatable for birds diversity. Beginning with birds the size of a sparrow, whose strange and even disturbing songs amaze us. And their names are as mysterious as they are. Because – can we really imagine how the Aquatic Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Savi’s Warbler, Reed Bunting, or Grasshopper Warbler look like? At this point it is worth noting that many of them do not sound quite as expected of "normal" singing birds. Instead of beautiful flute song and trills we hear a loud, persistent and endlessly repeated ticking, rattling, drumming, squeaking ... Here live also what we may refer to as the avian aristocracy - the elegant, the stylish, and the increasingly rare birds - as rare as their environment. Refined, long beaks and legs are not extravagant, but a great way of walking through shallow pools in search of food on the bottom. Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Snipe are some of the most famous representatives of this group. On wetlands it is impossible not to mention ducks, geese, storks, herons, cranes, and majestic White Tailed Eagles. However, some of the most beautiful birds in the marshes are harriers. For them, wetlands are places for breeding and hunting. A harrier in sweeping flight is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful marsh views. Only here can we see plants with roots whose main task is not drawing water from the ground but to ensure firm anchoring point for the whole plant. The problem of lack of nutrients in wet often acidic soil is often solved through close cooperation with fungi - as is the case of orchids. Some plants have chosen much more radical solutions to this problem and they catch insects - as does sundew or small aquatic invertebrates – as in the case of bladderworts.
 

Paradoxically, a perfect adaptation to the hardships of life in the marshes can sometimes be the biggest threat. When wetlands are destroyed, cut by drainage channels and turned into meadows or worse, arable fields, the vast majority of wetlands inhabitants cannot make it and perish. For this reason so many of them are these days standing on the edge of extinction. They disappear together with the disappearing wetlands... Even the smallest swamp, a small pool of water in the midst fields is now at a premium. And it only depends on us whether our children will still be able to see the great elk, the majestic Marsh Harrier or the unique predatory plants.