The Everglades are the subtropical wetlands in the southern part of Florida in the United States and the southern half of the massive watershed. Bounded by the Gulf of Mexico, the Tamiami Trail, and the Florida Keys, the Everglades are the largest designated subtropical wilderness reserve on the North American continent. The Everglades are also often called "River of Grass" which describes the water system stretching from the middle of Florida peninsula, flowing through Kissimmee River and Late of Okeechobee, and reaching Florida Bay. Situated at the juncture of subtropical wetlands, coastal, and marine environments, the Everglades provides various water habits for large number of animals. Such diverse plant and animal life forms constitute the complex ecosystems in the Everglades (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2011, U.S. Geological Survey, 2011, & U.S. National Park Service, 2011).
The diversity of animal life forms
The Everglades are the home for the diverse array of animals, encompassing the species from the Caribbean tropics as well as the species from temperate North America, including life forms of amphibians, birds, fishes, mammals, and reptiles (U.S. National Park Service, 2011).
The most commonly seen amphibians in the Everglades are frogs, toads, and salamanders. They usually stay in the areas between land and water and are characterized by their unique and noisy chorus (U.S. National Park Service, 2011).
More than 360 different bird species have been sighted in the Everglades. They are usually categorized into three groups of wading birds, land birds, and birds of prey. There are 16 species of wading birds reside in the Everglades which make Everglades have the greatest concentration of wading birds on the North American continent. All of them have long legs to wade into water and catch foods. The most commonly seen ones are the white ibis, the great blue heron, and the snowy egret etc. There are approximately 200 species land birds which spend most of their lives in drier areas of the Everglades, such as warblers, cardinals, and bluejays. Roughly 60% of the land birds are migratory which only visit the Everglades when the climate and food conditions are good. The third group of bird in the Everglades is the birds of prey, including hawks, owls, and eagles etc. They use the hooked beak and claws to catch their foods from the ground, such as lizards and snakes (Uhler, 2007 & U.S. National Park Service, 2011).
Fish plays an important role in the food web in the Everglades. The 300 species of fish live in the freshwater marches as well as the marine coastline provide the main food sources for larger fish, birds, alligators, and even human. Florida gar, mosquitofish, and least killifish etc. are all parts of the aquatic life in the Everglades (U.S. National Park Service, 2011).
There are over 40 species of mammals inhabit the Everglades. Although these mammals prefer drier lands and fields, most of them have developed certain abilities to adapt to the unique semi-aquatic environment in Everglades, such as wading and swimming. Rabbits, dears, opossums, raccoons, otters, and fox are commonly seen mammals in the Everglades (U.S. National Park Service, 2011).