Common to four of the continents on Earth are large expanses or complexes of flooded grasslands. These areas support numerous plants and animals adapted to the unique hydrologic regimes and soil conditions.
Large congregations of migratory and resident waterbirds may be found in these regions.
However, the relative importance of these habitat types for these birds as well as more vagile taxa typically varies as the availability of water and productivity annually and seasonally shifts among complexes of smaller and larger wetlands throughout a region.
Some globally outstanding flooded savannas and grasslands occur in the Everglades, Pantanal, Sahelian flooded savannas, Zambezian flooded savannas, and the Sudd.
The Everglades are the world’s largest rain-fed flooded grassland on a limestone substrate, and feature some 11,000 species of seed-bearing plants, 25 varieties of orchids, 300 bird species, and 150 fish species.
The Pantanal, one of the largest continental wetlands on Earth, supports over 260 species of fish, 700 birds, 90 mammals, 160 reptiles, 45 amphibians, 1,000 butterflies, and 1,600 species of plants. The flooded savannas and grasslands are generally the largest complexes in each region.
Most terrestrial species have relatively widespread ranges in these habitats; alpha and beta diversity are not pronounced; endemism in terrestrial species is low.
Maintaining hydrographic integrity is critical to these habitats; many species track flooding patterns and seasonal abundance of resources; riparian and gallery habitats are important for many species.
Sensitivity to Disturbance
Diversion and channelization of water flow greatly impact the integrity of these habitats; loss of riparian and gallery habitats can impact wildlife populations; sensitive to water quality changes from pollution and eutrophication; alteration of natural fire regimes may shift composition and structure of communities.