7 junio, 2024

Aquatic ecosystem: what it is, characteristics, types, examples, flora, fauna

We explain what an aquatic ecosystem is, its characteristics, types, flora and fauna. Finally, we give several examples of aquatic ecosystems.

What is an aquatic ecosystem?

A aquatic ecosystem It is the one that encompasses habitats that develop in bodies of water, such as rivers, lakes or seas, encompassing combinations of flora and fauna that grow and live in this type of environment.

These spaces are characterized because there is a lots of life in them, composing an enormous biodiversity; In addition, they have functions that are essential for the entire planet.

The two main types of aquatic ecosystems are those of fresh water and salt water; each one in turn has divisions, according to their characteristics and areas in which they thrive.

Characteristics of aquatic ecosystems

They are made up of animals, vegetation, flora and different organisms that inhabit aquatic environments, carrying out their activities in bodies of water.
The life of these ecosystems has acquired certain particular characteristics by adapt to the aquatic environmentresulting in a process of evolution very different from that of life in terrestrial environments.
The bodies of water in which an aquatic ecosystem develops can be sweet or salty.
The flora present in these habitats are mainly algae and corals.
Due to their enormous biodiversity, they have positioned themselves as very productive systems.
They are responsible for fundamental functions for all life on the planet, such as serving as pollution filter.
In places where water does not receive sunlightorganisms adapted to function with low concentration of oxygen.
In this type of environment, the hydrophilic vegetationwhich consists of plants that carry out their entire life cycle completely immersed in water.
There can be ecosystems both natural and artificialwhich were created with human intervention.

Types of aquatic ecosystems

The main division among aquatic ecosystems is the one that distinguishes between freshwater habitats and saltwater habitats.

1. Freshwater ecosystems

They develop in bodies of water that have low salinity, including wetlands, swamps, and swamps. These bodies can disappear in certain seasons, as they depend on weather conditions. In turn, they can be classified into three subtypes.

lotic ecosystems: Formed from currents, such as rivers, streams, springs, or rivulets. The water in these types of habitats flows rapidly and does so in only one direction, carrying different dissolved materials along this path. Its characteristic fauna is made up of insects, fish and mammals such as otters.
lentic ecosystems: They develop in stagnant water with little flow, such as lagoons, lakes or ponds. The depth in these bodies gradually decreases and they have a large amount of vegetation. They can dry out in a prolonged period of drought. In these systems there are three zones: littoral, limnetic and deep.
freshwater wetlands: regions that are flooded at certain times of the year and that generate encounters between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Vegetation that is tolerant to water develops on the soils, as occurs in swamps.

2. Saltwater ecosystems

They are made up of waters with a high presence of salts, as is the case of seas, oceans, marshes and coral reefs. They inhabit from small microorganisms to huge predatory animals. They can be classified according to the areas in which the habitats develop.

neritic zone: means near the coast that is located on the continental platform; It is characterized by presenting a continuous movement in the water.
ocean/marine zone: It is further from the coast, generally located within an ocean.
Littoral/intertidal zone: It develops in a line that goes from the coast to the limit of the continental shelf.

Another classification of saline ecosystems contemplates their depth:

epipelagic zone: goes from the surface to approximately 200 meters. It has enough sunlight for plants to photosynthesize.
mesopelagic zone: ranges from 200 to a thousand meters. There is presence of sunlight, however, it is not enough for photosynthesis.
anthropolagic zone: It is a transition area that is located at a depth of a thousand meters and where plants cannot be found.
bathypelagic zone: from 1000 to 1400; it is an area that is almost in total darkness.
abyssopelagic zone: It extends from four thousand meters and reaches the underwater floor. There is no sunlight and the organisms that inhabit here are blind.
hadopelagic zone: It is made up of the oceanic trenches and it is an almost completely unknown area where very few animals have been observed.

Examples of aquatic ecosystems

sea ​​grasslands: coastal waters that have an approximate depth of 25 meters, the waves are low and there is little presence of sediments. These ecosystems prevent coastal erosion.
Coral reefs: are formed by calcium carbonate secreted by coral organisms; They can be found in warm, shallow waters where a high nutrient content is concentrated.
lagoons: natural water deposits found a short distance from the sea; the water is usually salty. Abundant vegetation grows on them, which can include plants with roots throughout the entire length.
swamps: low land covered by water that includes trees and vegetation; they exist in practically the whole world, with the exception of Antarctica. The water they contain can be fresh, salty or brackish.
mangroves: coastal ecosystems that are common in tropical areas. They are born from the contact between terrestrial and marine environments and are key to the conservation of plant and animal species.
groundwater: bodies of water that are below the earth’s surface and that are essential for the hydrological cycle. They are formed from rain when water filters and is stored.
streams: small and rugged bodies of water, with little depth and low flow. Sometimes they flow into larger freshwater bodies or into the sea.
oceans: continuous masses of salt water that cover much of the earth’s surface. Life began in them and to this day they are home to most of the flora and fauna that exists on the planet.
streams: short streams of water that flow according to the gravity and geology of the land where they are located. They leave sediment in their wake and may form part of floodplains.
costs: parts of the continent that border the sea; in them there are strips that are submerged, while others emerge. They are modified by weather, wind, waves, tides, and both biological and human activities.

Flora of freshwater aquatic ecosystems

water hyacinth
Water lily
calla or water lily
Rush
Cane
water lettuce
water fern
water mint
canadian weed
Iris
Cyperus
Horse tail
Bulrush
frog bite
water pipe

Flora of saltwater aquatic ecosystems

Brown algae
red algae
Green algae
sea ​​grass
red mangrove
white mangrove
phytoplankton
diatoms
lichens
Sargasso
Zosteraceae
cymodoceaceae
Posidoniaceae
blue algae
golden algae

Fauna of freshwater aquatic ecosystems

Trout
fish whose
aquatic snail
Crustaceans
clams
snakes
turtles
Duck
dragonflies
mosquitoes
zooplankton
frogs
otters
beetles
herons

Fauna of saltwater aquatic ecosystems

molluscs
crabs
Shrimp
lobsters
corals
anemones
jellyfish
amphibians
Fish
reptiles
Whales
turtles
sharks
octopuses
squid

References

Types of Aquatic Ecosystem and its Adaptations. Taken from byjus.com
Aquatic Ecosystem – an overview. Taken from sciencedirect.com

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