US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



1985 Authors


Classification of Wetlands and Deep water Habitats of the United States 1-79


This classification, to be used in a new inventory of wetlands and deepwater habitats of the United States, is intended to describe ecological taxa, arrange them in a system useful to resource managers, furnish units for mapping, and provide uniformity of concepts and terms.Wetlands are defined by plants (hydrophytes), soils (hydric soils), and frequency of flooding. Ecologically related areas of deep water, traditionally not considered wetlands, are included in the classification as deepwater habitats.

Systems form the highest level of the classification hierarchy; five are defined—Marine, Estuarine, Riverine, Lacustrine, and Palustrine. Marine and Estuarine Systems each have two Subsystems, Subtidal and Intertidal; the Riverine System has four Subsystems, Tidal, Lower Perennial, Upper Perennial, and Intermittent; the Lacustrine has two, Littoral and Limnetic; and the Palustrine has no Subsystems.