Florida’s wetlands are often pockmarked with basins or depressions that fill with water to create generally permanent bodies of water (although water levels often fluctuate substantially and ponds may become completely dry). The basins that form these ponds and small lakes can be the result of erosion of the underlying bedrock, period fires that burn deep into the organic soil of cypress swamps, and even the wallowing activity of the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis).
Swamp ponds and lakes may be fringed by water-loving trees and shrubs like the Coastal Plain Willow (Salix caroliniana). The water’s surface may be completely open or covered by wetland plants like American Lotus (Nelumbo lutea), Spatterdock (Nuphar advena), Duckweed (Lemna valdiviana), Frog’s Bit (Limnobium spongia), and Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes). Swamp ponds and lakes are important breeding and foraging areas for many wildlife species.
Just a few of the common animal residents include the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), Florida Gar (Lepisosteus platyrhincus), Bowfin (Amia calva), Mosquito Fish (Gambusia holbrooki), Green Tree Frog (Hyla cinerea), Pig Frog (Lithobates grylio), Red-belly Turtle (Pseudemys nelsoni), and Banded Water Snake (Nerodia fasciata). Ponds are also visited often by Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias), Wood Storks (Mycteria americana), Great Egrets (Ardea alba), White Ibis (Eudocimus albus), and River Otters (Lontra canadensis).