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South Florida Aquatic Environments

Cypress Swamps



NATIVE FAUNA
American Alligator
courtesy U.S. Geological Survey

American Alligator


Cypress Swamps:

Native Fauna

  • Aquatic life is more diverse and abundant than terrestrial life within cypress swamps
Although cypress habitats support few species of terrestrial wildlife, the water within cypress domes does support a variety of aquatic life. Invertebrates including crayfish, dragonfly larvae, and snails provide food for small fish and wading birds.

Golden Topminnow
courtesy Noel Burkhead/Howard Jelks, U.S. Geological Survey
Golden Topminnow

Flagfish
courtesy South Florida Water Management District
Flagfish


Common fishes in these shallow marsh habitats include marsh killifish (Fundulus confluentus), golden topminnows (Fundulus chrysotus), flagfish (Jordanella floridae), and the mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki). These fish are adapted for survival in aquatic habitats that dry seasonally. The marsh killifish is able to survive complete dessication by burying their eggs in the muds while the adult fish perish. These eggs hatch when flooding occurs at the beginning of the wet season, continuing the survival of the species. Other small fish, such as the mosquitofish, take refuge in rock cavities or crayfish burrows that maintain water levels until the rains come in the summer.

leopard frog
Leopard Frog
© Kenneth Krysko
bullfrog
Bull Frog
courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


During the dry season, reptiles and amphibians frequent cypress domes in search of moisture. These species include:


Cypress habitats are prime areas for feeding and nesting birds, including many that have threatened or endangered status. One example is the wood stork (Mycteria americana), an endangered species that is entirely dependent upon the wetlands of Florida. Within cypress swamps, this bird feeds on small freshwater fish and nests in the trees.

wild turkey
Wild Turkey
courtesy South Florida Water Management District
tricolored heron
Tricolored Heron
courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Other year-round residents include:


Raptors include:

river otter
River Otter
courtesy NOAA
beaver
Beaver
© Robert Potts, California Academy of Sciences

Mammals residing in the cypress swamps include: White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and the Florida panther (Felis concolor coryi) utilize cypress habitats for daytime bedding.

gray squirrel
Gray Squirrel
courtesy NOAA
raccoon
Raccoon
© Gerald and Buff Corsi, California Academy of Sciences