Basin marsh, or prairie, is characterized as a more or less herbaceous wetland located in a large depression. Often, these depressions are former shallow lakes. The vegetation is usually dominated by floating and emergent macrophytes. Basin marshes are associated with and often grade into wet prairie or lake communities. Because the vegetation is similar, a small basin marsh may be very difficult to distinguish from a large depression marsh.
Soils are acidic peats that form as shallow lake bottoms slowly fill with sediments from the surrounding uplands and material from decaying vegetation. Basin marshes usually are inundated for 200 or more days per year.
Frequent fires maintain the herbaceous community by restricting invasion by shrubs and trees.
Characteristic plants are maidencane, pickerel-weed, saw-grass, cat-tail, primrose-willow, lotus, water-lily, spatter-dock, etc.
Characteristic animals include river otter, raccoon, round tailed muskrat, wood stork, sandhill crane, white ibis, herons and egrets, rails, mottled duck, blue-winged teal, harrier (marsh hawk), snipe, moorhen, purple gallinule, red-winged blackbird, boat-tailed grackle, alligator, stripped mud turtle, stinkpot, chicken turtle, green water snake, mud snake, stripped swamp snake, pig frog, Florida cricket frog, and a whole host of small fish species such as the mosquito fish, golden top minnow, pirate perch.
Basin marshes in Alachua County are generally restricted to its south-central portion and are exemplified by vast areas of Paynes Prairie State Preserve.