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Wetland Ecology
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Provincial Park

Wetland Ecology


"Wetlands is a comprehensive term for landforms such as salt marshes, swamps, bogs, prairie potholes, and vernal pools (shallow depressions that seasonally hold water). Their common feature is that they are wet at least part of the year and as a result have a particulr types of vegetation and soil." (Botkin and Keller, 1998)



Where are the wetlands in the Cypress Hills?
There are three main bodies of water in the Cypress Hills:
Lake Elkwater Lake Reesor Reservoir Spruce Coulee
Surface Area 181.7 hectares 51.8 hectares 21 hectares
Maximum Depth 7.62 meters 5.5 meters 7 meters
Average Depth 4 meters 5 meters 3.6 meters
There are also two smaller reservoirs (Bullshead Reservoir and Michelle Reservoir), three main creeks (Beaver Creek, Battle Creek, and Graburn Creek), and numerous springs and sloughs.


Postcard. Photograph by O. Tarnasky

What function to wetlands serve?
    Wetlands serve a variety of services for ecosystems and people, such as being:
  1. a natural sponge to absorb water during floods and release it later.
  2. an area of groundwarer recharge and discharge.
  3. a nursery for fish, shellfish, aquatic birds, and other animals.
  4. a natural filter to help purify water.
  5. a highly productive system for cycling nutrients and chemicals.
  6. a coastal buffer from storms.
  7. a storage site for organic carbon.
  8. aesthetically pleasing places for humans. (Botkin and Keller, 1995)


Photograph by
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Alberta.


What animals might you find in a wetland?
Depending what type of wetland you are visiting, you may find different animals. Many fish and amphibians (such as the Northern Leopard Frog and Boreal Chorus Frog) live in the water of wetlands for all or part of their lives. Muskrats and beavers build dams and lodges in lakes and large creeks. The Red-winged Blackbird and Yellow-headed Blackbird are two birds that most visitors to lakes will hear singing their territorial songs and see perched on tall bullrushes (cattails). Some other birds which live in wetlands include:
  • Canada Goose
  • Piping Plover
  • Solitary Sandpiper and Spotted Sandpiper
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Marsh Wren
  • Grebes
  • and many species of ducks and mergansers.
    (Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Alberta, pamphlets)

    Great Blue Heron
    Great Blue Heron - Canadian Wildlife Service
    Trumpeter Swan - Canadian Wildlife Service
    Canadian Goose - Canadian Wildlife Service
    Beaver - Canadian Wildlife Service
    Picture of Beaver
    Moose - Canadian Wildlife Service
    Picture of Moose

    Where can you visit wetlands in the Cypress Hills?
    Day 1 - Lakeshore Trail along the edge of Elkwater Lake
    Day 2 - Beaver Creek
    Day 3 - Reesor Reservoir, Battle Creek, and Graburn Creek

    Frogwatch Resources
    Prairie Wetland Ecology Team
    Wetland Ecology Research at the Devonian Botanical Garden
    Wetlands Publications
    Wetlands - Canadian Wildlife Service

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