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Wetland is part of a continuum of land types between deep water and dryland. Only one wetland classification was available for the United States prior to preparation of the new system described here, but numerous regional and special-purpose classifications are in use. The new classification is hierarchical, progressing from five systems (marine, estuarine, lacustrine, riverine, and palustrine) at the most general level to dominance types based on plant or animal communities at the most specific level . The system is currently in use for prototype maps of wetlands of the United States. It is hoped that it may be incorporated into a classification of all land.