Blackwater Floodplain Forests

Suwannee River, photo by Larry KorhnakBlackwater rivers carry dissolved organic matter in their waters. The sandy soils underlying flatwoods in watersheds of blackwater rivers contribute few nutrients to runoff that supplies blackwater rivers.

Floodplains on blackwater rivers may be underlain by impermeable soil layers extending into them from the surrounding landscape, therefore, horizontal groundwater flow may contribute as much water as surface runoff to the river and the standing water in the floodplain.

Flooding is closely related to local rain events, and water levels rise and fall somewhat rapidly.

Vegetation

blackwater river, photo by Larry KorhnakBlackwater floodplain forests are often not as diverse as whitewater floodplain forests. The zones occupied by different forest types are very narrow or absent, with the exception of gum (Nyssa)/cypress (Taxodium) communities which may be quite extensive. One species such as bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) or American elm (Ulmus americana) may dominate in certain areas.

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Fauna

alligator, photo by Julie Anne Ferguson DemersAll types of swamps provide food, cover, nesting sites, and hibernating places for a variety of animals. However, most animals spend only a part of their lives in swamps, moving to uplands or other water bodies as water levels rise and fall. Animals common to blackwater floodplain forests include:

Mammals:

  • otters (Lutra canadensis)
  • golden mouse (Ochrotomys nuttalli)
  • southeastern shrew (Sorex longirostris)
  • cotton mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus)
  • beaver (Castor canadensis) (in north Florida in floodplains of small streams)
  • raccoons (Procyon lotor)

Birds:

  • yellow-rumped warbler (Dendroica coronata)
  • pine warbler (Dendroica pinus)
  • limpkin (Aranus guarauna)
  • white ibis (Eudocimes albus)
  • glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
  • wood duck (Aix sponsa)
  • turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)
  • Mississippi kites (Ictinia mississippiensis)
  • swallow-tailed kites (Elanoides forficatus)
  • Swainson's warbler (Limnothlypis swainsonii)
  • prothonotary warbler (Protonotaria citrea)

Amphibians

  • marbled salamander (Ambystoma opacum)
  • four-toed salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum)
  • dwarf siren (Pseudobranhus striatus)
  • bird-voiced tree frog (Hyla avivoca)

alligator, photo by US Fish and Wildlife ServiceReptiles:

  • alligator (alligator mississippiensis)
  • burrowing sirens (Siren spp.)
  • amphiumas (Amphiuma means)
  • mud snake (Farancia abacura)
  • rainbow snake (Farancia erytrogramma)

Threatened or Endangered Wildlife

Mammals:

  • Florida black bear (Ursus americanus floridanus)
  • Florida panther (Felis concolor coryi)
  • mangrove fox squirrel (Sciurus niger)
  • mink (Mustela vison)

Birds:

  • bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucaocephalus)
  • osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

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