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The Mississippi River originates in Lake Itasca in the Minnesota North Woods, and runs through the mid-continental United States (31 states), two Canadian Provinces and the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Plain. The Mississippi River is one of the world's major river systems in size, habitat diversity and biological productivity, with a subtropical delta in Louisiana and flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. With 3,705 km, it is the longest and largest river in North America, third longest river in the world, the second in watershed area and fifth in average discharge. The river basin covers about 40% of the United States and about 12.5% of North America.
The Mississippi river supports a variety of floodplain, wetland and open-water environments, providing habitat for fish and wildlife. It includes the largest continuous system of wetlands in North America and extensive national wildlife refuges exist along its course. The river hosts 278 fish and mussel species, and is included in the flyway of 40% of North America’s duck, goose, swan and eagle populations.
Coordinates: 29.16° N 89.25° W
Selected Characteristics: (USEPA, 1999)
Surface Area: 1,554 km2
Drainage Area: 2,931,100 km2
Average Daily FW Inflow: 13,150 m3/s
Average Depth: 6.0 m
Average Salinity: 6 ppt
USEPA. 1999. Ecological condition of estuaries in the Gulf of Mexico. EPA 620-R-98-004. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Gulf Ecology Division, Gulf Breeze, Florida. 80 pp.
USGS. 2003. Status and Trends of the Nation's Biological Resources. Located on the web at: http://biology.usgs.gov/s+t/SNT/noframe/ms137.htm (see link below).
LACoast - Mississippi River Delta Basin
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - Delta National Wildlife Refuge
Louisiana Deptartment of Wildlife & Fisheries - Pass A Loutre Wildlife Management Area
USGS - Status and Trends of the Nation's Biological Resources
Keywords: Mississippi, River
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