The ecosystem is known to be a biological community of the area in which interaction between organisms and their environment (physical and chemical) take place. There are multiple ecosystems at various levels working together in order to form the basis of all living on Earth. Aquatic ecosystem helps in a clear understanding of the biodiversity (i.e. flora and fauna) on Earth.
The interactive effects of various global change factor on the ecosystem are complex. The global pollutants and activities bring about multiple environmental changes. It becomes vital that every ecosystem is protected from climate changes. Human activities like carbon dioxide emission, excessive fishing, recreation, waste disposal, transportation etc pose an imminent threat to the ecosystem in whole.
TYPES OF AQUATIC ECOSYSTEMS
Any ecosystem that is water based and sports an interaction between plants and animals with the physical and chemical features of the environment is known to be an aquatic ecosystem. The aquatic ecosystem is essential and critical to human health and economies.
On considering the types, there are two types of aquatic ecosystems-
- Marine ecosystemThese tend to cover more than seventy-one percent of the Earth’s surface. For instance, oceans, coral reeds, coastal ecosystems, estuaries etc. are some of the kinds of the marine ecosystem.
- Shorelines– These are the places where seas and ocean meet land. Owing to the proximity it shares with the sea, there are increased chances of erosion and hurricanes. This is the reason why it serves as a habitat for burrowing animals. These are also known as coastal ecosystems. Some of the fauna include crabs, fishes, insects, lobsters, snails etc.
- Open ocean– These act as a source of rainfall and have a great impact on the biosphere. The temperature of oceans determines the pattern of the winds and climate.
- Coral reefs– These are also known as the ‘Rainforests of the sea’ and cover less than one percent of the ocean. These are made up of the accumulation of calcium carbonate that gets deposited by marine species like shellfish and corals. These tend to be clear, warm and shallow. These are known to be world’s second richest ecosystems in terms of plants and animals.
- Freshwater ecosystemThese tend to cover less than even one percent of the Earth’s surface. Freshwater consists of relatively minute quantities of dissolved chemical compounds over other water. Light and nutrient availability controls the primary production that occurs in the freshwater ecosystem.
- Standing water– These are also known as the lentic ecosystems like ponds and lakes. Algae, floating leaf plants, rooted planted etc.; invertebrates like clams, shrimps, crabs, crayfish etc.; reptiles like water snakes, alligators; amphibians like frogs, salamanders etc. make up for the lentic ecosystem.
- Moving water– These are also known as the lotic ecosystems where the water keeps flowing in a uniform unidirectional way. The species found in such type of ecosystem include crustaceans like crabs and crayfish; molluscs like clams and limpets. The examples of moving water are streams and rivers consisting of a variety of marine life species like stoneflies, beetles, eel, minnow, beavers, dolphins etc.
- Wetlands– The water is shallow consisting of rich diverse biodiversity. This happens because they have a lot of sunlight reaching in order to sustain life. For instance, swamps, marshes and bogs. The varieties of plants include water lilies, sedges, mangrove, tamarack etc. There are varieties of amphibians and reptiles that reside in wetlands too. Even Northern Pike, Green Heron, dragonflies etc. are found here.
- Estuaries– These are the areas where the freshwater dumped into the ocean which makes it salty. The water is neither freshwater nor salty water like the ocean. It is somewhere in between. They sport high biodiversity owing to the productivity of the water that happens because of water circulation trapping nutrients inside it. The marine life organisms are well suited to all levels of salt content. For instance, coastal bays, river mouths, tidal marshes are some examples of estuaries.
IMPORTANCE OF AQUATIC ECOSYSTEMS
- The wetlands act as natural filters by reducing pollution, acting as nurseries for varied aquatic species, controlling floods etc. since they connect land and water together.
- By understanding the aquatic ecosystems and how the water in the surrounding area gets drained to the same point, an individual can understand the connection. This helps in preventing pollution, draughts and overuse of freshwater. Since freshwater is already scarce, this would avoid wastage of water.
- Whether it is transportation, wildlife hubs or recreation; rivers, estuaries and lakes are important to facilitate them.
- Since more than 69% of the freshwater mussel species in the U.S. are at risk of extinction, there is a need for conserving them. They help in filtering water.