What types of wetlands are there?

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California has a great diversity of wetlands. Different types of wetlands can provide different functions and services. This is also true for the same kinds of wetlands in different regions or environmental settings. Different wetland types provide different services and support diverse wildlife, such as water birds, birds of prey, otters, bears, deer, and a wealth of fish species. Wetland management strategies must, therefore, be customized based on wetland type and location. California has recently adopted a wetland classification system to help guide wetland management.

The broad categories used to classify California’s wetlands are lacustrine (wetlands associated with lakes and reservoirs), riverine (wetlands associated with rivers and streams), depressional (shallow wetlands confined to topographic basins or hollows), estuarine (wetlands associated with estuaries),  marine (wetlands along the coast), and slope (wetlands that depend on groundwater but are not confined to topographic basins). A number of factors distinguish these types, but the most important are the sources of the water supporting the wetland, the depth of water in the wetland, and its environmental setting.