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6.11: Aquatic Biomes - Biology

6.11: Aquatic Biomes - Biology


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Do aquatic ecosystems need sunlight?

Of course. The sunlight - in part - allows the diversity of life seen in this ecosystem. If the available sunlight was less, could this ecosystem still thrive? Maybe, but the ecosystem would probably be very different. Sunlight, of course, is necessary for photosynthesis, which brings energy into an ecosystem. So, the availability of that sunlight has a direct impact on the productivity and biodiversity of aquatic ecosystems.

Aquatic Biomes

Terrestrial organisms are generally limited by temperature and moisture. Therefore, terrestrial biomes are defined in terms of these abiotic factors. Most aquatic organisms do not have to deal with extremes of temperature or moisture. Instead, their main limiting factors are the availability of sunlight and the concentration of dissolved oxygen and nutrients in the water. These factors vary from place to place in a body of water and are used to define aquatic biomes.

Aquatic Biomes and Sunlight

In large bodies of standing water, including the ocean and lakes, the water can be divided into zones based on the amount of sunlight it receives:

  1. The photic zone extends to a maximum depth of 200 meters (656 feet) below the surface of the water. This is where enough sunlight penetrates for photosynthesis to occur. Algae and other photosynthetic organisms can make food and support food webs.
  2. The aphotic zone is water deeper than 200 meters. This is where too little sunlight penetrates for photosynthesis to occur. As a result, food must be made by chemosynthesis or else drift down from the water above.

These and other aquatic zones in the ocean are identified in Figure below.

The ocean is divided into many different zones, depending on distance from shore and depth of water.

Aquatic Biomes and Dissolved Substances

Water in lakes and the ocean also varies in the amount of dissolved oxygen and nutrients it contains:

  1. Water near the surface of lakes and the ocean usually has more dissolved oxygen than does deeper water. This is because surface water absorbs oxygen from the air above it.
  2. Water near shore generally has more dissolved nutrients than water farther from shore. This is because most nutrients enter the water from land. They are carried by runoff, streams, and rivers that empty into a body of water.
  3. Water near the bottom of lakes and the ocean may contain more nutrients than water closer to the surface. When aquatic organisms die, they sink to the bottom. Decomposers near the bottom of the water break down the dead organisms and release their nutrients back into the water.

Marine Biomes

Anglerfish live in the ocean. Aquatic biomes in the ocean are called marine biomes. Organisms that live in marine biomes must be adapted to the salt in the water. For example, many have organs for excreting excess salt. Two ocean zones are particularly challenging to marine organisms: the intertidal zone and the deep ocean.

The intertidal zone is the narrow strip along the coastline that is covered by water at high tide and exposed to air at low tide (see Figure below). There are plenty of nutrients and sunlight in the intertidal zone. However, the water is constantly moving in and out, and the temperaturekeeps changing. These conditions require adaptations in the organisms that live there, such as the barnacles in Figure below.

These pictures show the intertidal zone of the Bay of Fundy, on the Atlantic coast in Maine. Can you identify the intertidal zone from the pictures?

Barnacles secrete a cement-like substance that anchors them to rocks in the intertidal zone.

Organisms that live deep in the ocean must be able to withstand extreme water pressure, very cold water, and complete darkness. However, even here, thriving communities of living things can be found. Organisms cluster around hydrothermal vents in the ocean floor. The vents release hot water containing chemicals that would be toxic to most other living things. The producers among them are single-celled chemoautotrophs. They make food using energy stored in the chemicals.

Monitoring Marine Protected Areas

Is overfishing an important issue? What would happen if fish populations dwindled? Marine Protected Areas are no-fishing zones that have recently been established up and down the California coast, in the hope of allowing fish to breed, grow large, and replenish state waters. Scientists monitor these areas to determine if this process is working.

Summary

  • Aquatic biomes are determined mainly by sunlight and concentrations of dissolved oxygen and nutrients in the water.
  • Marine biomes are found in the salt water of the ocean.

Review

  1. How are aquatic biomes defined?
  2. What is the photic zone of the ocean?
  3. Where does food come from in the aphasic zone?

Aquatic Biomes

Like terrestrial biomes, aquatic biomes are influenced by a series of abiotic factors. The aquatic medium—water— has different physical and chemical properties than air, however. Even if the water in a pond or other body of water is perfectly clear (there are no suspended particles), water, on its own, absorbs light. As one descends into a deep body of water, there will eventually be a depth which the sunlight cannot reach. While there are some abiotic and biotic factors in a terrestrial ecosystem that might obscure light (like fog, dust, or insect swarms), usually these are not permanent features of the environment. The importance of light in aquatic biomes is central to the communities of organisms found in both freshwater and marine ecosystems. In freshwater systems, stratification due to differences in density is perhaps the most critical abiotic factor and is related to the energy aspects of light. The thermal properties of water (rates of heating and cooling) are significant to the function of marine systems and have major impacts on global climate and weather patterns. Marine systems are also influenced by large-scale physical water movements, such as currents these are less important in most freshwater lakes.

The ocean is categorized into several areas or zones (Figure 1). All of the ocean’s open water is referred to as the pelagic realm (or zone). The benthic realm (or zone) extends along the ocean bottom from the shoreline to the deepest parts of the ocean floor. Within the pelagic realm is the photic zone, which is the portion of the ocean that light can penetrate (approximately 200 m or 650 ft). At depths greater than 200 m, light cannot penetrate thus, this is referred to as the aphotic zone. The majority of the ocean is aphotic and lacks sufficient light for photosynthesis. The deepest part of the ocean, the Challenger Deep (in the Mariana Trench, located in the western Pacific Ocean), is about 11,000 m (about 6.8 mi) deep. To give some perspective on the depth of this trench, the ocean is, on average, 4267 m or 14,000 ft deep. These realms and zones are relevant to freshwater lakes as well.

Figure 1: The ocean is divided into different zones based on water depth and distance from the shoreline. (credit: “Ocean zones” by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0)

Marine Biomes

The ocean is the largest marine biome. It is a continuous body of saltwater that is relatively uniform in chemical composition it is a weak solution of mineral salts and decayed biological matter. Within the ocean, coral reefs are the second kind of marine biome. Estuaries, coastal areas where salt water and fresh water mix, form a third unique marine biome.

Ocean

The physical diversity of the ocean is a significant influence on plants, animals, and other organisms. The ocean is categorized into different zones based on how far light reaches into the water. Each zone has a distinct group of species adapted to the biotic and abiotic conditions particular to that zone.

The intertidal zone , which is the zone between high and low tide, is the oceanic region that is closest to land (Figure 1). Generally, most people think of this portion of the ocean as a sandy beach. In some cases, the intertidal zone is indeed a sandy beach, but it can also be rocky or muddy. The intertidal zone is an extremely variable environment because of tides. Organisms are exposed to air and sunlight at low tide and are underwater most of the time, especially during high tide. Therefore, living things that thrive in the intertidal zone are adapted to being dry for long periods of time. The shore of the intertidal zone is also repeatedly struck by waves, and the organisms found there are adapted to withstand damage from the pounding action of the waves (Figure 2). The exoskeletons of shoreline crustaceans (such as the shore crab, Carcinus maenas) are tough and protect them from desiccation (drying out) and wave damage. Another consequence of the pounding waves is that few algae and plants establish themselves in the constantly moving rocks, sand, or mud.

Figure 2: Sea urchins, mussel shells, and starfish are often found in the intertidal zone, shown here in Kachemak Bay, Alaska. (credit: NOAA. “seastars” by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0)

The neritic zone (Figure 1) extends from the intertidal zone to depths of about 200 m (or 650 ft) at the edge of the continental shelf. Since light can penetrate this depth, photosynthesis can occur in the neritic zone. The water here contains silt and is well-oxygenated, low in pressure, and stable in temperature. Phytoplankton and floating Sargassum (a type of free-floating marine seaweed) provide a habitat for some sea life found in the neritic zone. Zooplankton, protists, small fishes, and shrimp are found in the neritic zone and are the base of the food chain for most of the world’s fisheries.

Beyond the neritic zone is the open ocean area known as the oceanic zone (Figure 1). Within the oceanic zone, there is thermal stratification where warm and cold waters mix because of ocean currents. Abundant plankton serves as the base of the food chain for larger animals such as whales and dolphins. Nutrients are scarce and this is a relatively less productive part of the marine biome. When photosynthetic organisms and the protists and animals that feed on them die, their bodies fall to the bottom of the ocean where they remain unlike freshwater lakes, the open ocean lacks a process for bringing the organic nutrients back up to the surface. The majority of organisms in the aphotic zone include sea cucumbers (phylum Echinodermata) and other organisms that survive on the nutrients contained in the dead bodies of organisms in the photic zone.

Beneath the pelagic zone is the benthic realm, the deepwater region beyond the continental shelf (Figure 1). The bottom of the benthic realm is comprised of sand, silt, and dead organisms. Temperature decreases, remaining above freezing, as water depth increases. This is a nutrient-rich portion of the ocean because of the dead organisms that fall from the upper layers of the ocean. Because of this high level of nutrients, a diversity of fungi, sponges, sea anemones, marine worms, sea stars, fishes, and bacteria exist.

The deepest part of the ocean is the abyssal zone, which is at depths of 4000 m or greater. The abyssal zone (Figure 1) is very cold and has very high pressure, high oxygen content, and low nutrient content. There are a variety of invertebrates and fishes found in this zone, but the abyssal zone does not have plants because of the lack of light. Hydrothermal vents are found primarily in the abyssal zone chemosynthetic bacteria utilize the hydrogen sulfide and other minerals emitted from the vents. These chemosynthetic bacteria use hydrogen sulfide as an energy source and serve as the base of the food chain found in the abyssal zone.

Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are ocean ridges formed by marine invertebrates living in warm shallow waters within the photic zone of the ocean. They are found within 30˚ north and south of the equator. The Great Barrier Reef is a well-known reef system located several miles off the northeastern coast of Australia. Other coral reef systems are fringing islands, which are directly adjacent to land, or atolls, which are circular reef systems surrounding a former landmass that is now underwater. The coral organisms (members of phylum Cnidaria) are colonies of saltwater polyps that secrete a calcium carbonate skeleton. These calcium-rich skeletons slowly accumulate, forming the underwater reef (Figure 3). Corals found in shallower waters (at a depth of approximately 60 m or about 200 ft) have a mutualistic relationship with photosynthetic unicellular algae. The relationship provides corals with the majority of the nutrition and the energy they require. The waters in which these corals live are nutritionally poor and, without this mutualism, it would not be possible for large corals to grow. Some corals living in deeper and colder water do not have a mutualistic relationship with algae these corals attain energy and nutrients using stinging cells on their tentacles to capture prey.

It is estimated that more than 4,000 fish species inhabit coral reefs. These fishes can feed on coral, the cryptofauna (invertebrates found within the calcium carbonate substrate of the coral reefs), or the seaweed and algae that are associated with the coral. In addition, some fish species inhabit the boundaries of a coral reef these species include predators , herbivores, or planktivores . Predators are animal species that hunt and are carnivores or “flesh-eaters.” Herbivores eat plant material, and planktivores eat plankton.

Figure 3: Coral reefs are formed by the calcium carbonate skeletons of coral organisms, which are marine invertebrates in the phylum Cnidaria. (credit: Terry Hughes. “Coral reefs” by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0)

Evolution Connection – Global Decline of Coral Reefs

It takes a long time to build a coral reef. The animals that create coral reefs have evolved over millions of years, continuing to slowly deposit the calcium carbonate that forms their characteristic ocean homes. Bathed in warm tropical waters, the coral animals and their symbiotic algal partners evolved to survive at the upper limit of ocean water temperature.

Together, climate change and human activity pose dual threats to the long-term survival of the world’s coral reefs. As global warming due to fossil fuel emissions raises ocean temperatures, coral reefs are suffering. The excessive warmth causes the reefs to expel their symbiotic, food-producing algae, resulting in a phenomenon known as bleaching. When bleaching occurs, the reefs lose much of their characteristic color as the algae and the coral animals die if the loss of the symbiotic zooxanthellae is prolonged.

Rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide further threaten the corals in other ways as CO2 dissolves in ocean waters, it lowers the pH and increases ocean acidity. As acidity increases, it interferes with the calcification that normally occurs as coral animals build their calcium carbonate homes.

When a coral reef begins to die, species diversity plummets as animals lose food and shelter. Coral reefs are also economically important tourist destinations, so the decline of coral reefs poses a serious threat to coastal economies.

Human population growth has damaged corals in other ways, too. As human coastal populations increase, the runoff of sediment and agricultural chemicals has increased, too, causing some of the once-clear tropical waters to become cloudy. At the same time, overfishing of popular fish species has allowed the predator species that eat corals to go unchecked.

Although a rise in global temperatures of 1–2˚C (a conservative scientific projection) in the coming decades may not seem large, it is very significant to this biome. When change occurs rapidly, species can become extinct before evolution leads to new adaptations. Many scientists believe that global warming, with its rapid (in terms of evolutionary time) and inexorable increases in temperature, is tipping the balance beyond the point at which many of the world’s coral reefs can recover.

Estuaries: Where the Ocean Meets Fresh Water

Estuaries are biomes that occur where a source of fresh water, such as a river, meets the ocean. Therefore, both fresh water and salt water are found in the same vicinity mixing results in a diluted (brackish) saltwater. Estuaries form protected areas where many of the young offspring of crustaceans, mollusks, and fish begin their lives. Salinity is a very important factor that influences the organisms and the adaptations of the organisms found in estuaries. The salinity of estuaries varies and is based on the rate of flow of its freshwater sources. Once or twice a day, high tides bring salt water into the estuary. Low tides occurring at the same frequency reverse the current of salt water.

The short-term and rapid variation in salinity due to the mixing of fresh water and salt water is a difficult physiological challenge for the plants and animals that inhabit estuaries. Many estuarine plant species are halophytes: plants that can tolerate salty conditions. Halophytic plants are adapted to deal with the salinity resulting from saltwater on their roots or from sea spray. In some halophytes, filters in the roots remove the salt from the water that the plant absorbs. Other plants are able to pump oxygen into their roots. Animals, such as mussels and clams (phylum Mollusca), have developed behavioral adaptations that expend a lot of energy to function in this rapidly changing environment. When these animals are exposed to low salinity, they stop feeding, close their shells, and switch from aerobic respiration (in which they use gills) to anaerobic respiration (a process that does not require oxygen). When high tide returns to the estuary, the salinity and oxygen content of the water increases and these animals open their shells, begin feeding, and return to aerobic respiration.

Freshwater Biomes

Freshwater biomes include lakes and ponds (standing water) as well as rivers and streams (flowing water). They also include wetlands, which will be discussed later. Humans rely on freshwater biomes to provide aquatic resources for drinking water, crop irrigation, sanitation, and industry. These various roles and human benefits are referred to as ecosystem services . Lakes and ponds are found in terrestrial landscapes and are, therefore, connected with abiotic and biotic factors influencing these terrestrial biomes.

Lakes and Ponds

Lakes and ponds can range in area from a few square meters to thousands of square kilometers. Temperature is an important abiotic factor affecting living things found in lakes and ponds. In the summer, thermal stratification of lakes and ponds occurs when the upper layer of water is warmed by the sun and does not mix with deeper, cooler water. Light can penetrate within the photic zone of the lake or pond. Phytoplankton (algae and cyanobacteria) are found here and carry out photosynthesis, providing the base of the food web of lakes and ponds. Zooplankton, such as rotifers and small crustaceans, consume these phytoplankton. At the bottom of lakes and ponds, bacteria in the aphotic zone break down dead organisms that sink to the bottom.

Nitrogen and phosphorus are important limiting nutrients in lakes and ponds. Because of this, they are determining factors in the amount of phytoplankton growth in lakes and ponds. When there is a large input of nitrogen and phosphorus (from sewage and runoff from fertilized lawns and farms, for example), the growth of algae skyrockets, resulting in a large accumulation of algae called an algal bloom. Algal blooms (Figure 4) can become so extensive that they reduce light penetration in water. As a result, the lake or pond becomes aphotic and photosynthetic plants cannot survive. When the algae die and decompose, severe oxygen depletion of the water occurs. Fishes and other organisms that require oxygen are then more likely to die, and resulting dead zones are found across the globe. Lake Erie and the Gulf of Mexico represent freshwater and marine habitats where phosphorus control and storm water runoff pose significant environmental challenges.

Figure 4: The uncontrolled growth of algae in this lake has resulted in an algal bloom. (credit: Jeremy Nettleton. “uncontrolled growth of algae” by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0)

Rivers and Streams

Rivers and streams are continuously moving bodies of water that carry large amounts of water from the source, or headwater, to a lake or ocean. The largest rivers include the Nile River in Africa, the Amazon River in South America, and the Mississippi River in North America.

Abiotic features of rivers and streams vary along the length of the river or stream. Streams begin at a point of origin referred to as source water . The source water is usually cold, low in nutrients, and clear. The channel (the width of the river or stream) is narrower than at any other place along the length of the river or stream. Because of this, the current is often faster here than at any other point of the river or stream.

The fast-moving water results in minimal silt accumulation at the bottom of the river or stream therefore, the water is clear. Photosynthesis here is mostly attributed to algae that are growing on rocks the swift current inhibits the growth of phytoplankton. An additional input of energy can come from leaves or other organic material that falls into the river or stream from trees and other plants that border the water. When the leaves decompose, the organic material and nutrients in the leaves are returned to the water. Plants and animals have adapted to this fast-moving water. For instance, leeches (phylum Annelida) have elongated bodies and suckers on both ends. These suckers attach to the substrate, keeping the leech anchored in place. Freshwater trout species (phylum Chordata) are important predators in these fast-moving rivers and streams.

As the river or stream flows away from the source, the width of the channel gradually widens and the current slows. This slow-moving water, caused by the gradient decrease and the volume increase as tributaries unite, has more sedimentation. Phytoplankton can also be suspended in slow-moving water. Therefore, the water will not be as clear as it is near the source. The water is also warmer. Worms (phylum Annelida) and insects (phylum Arthropoda) can be found burrowing into the mud. The higher-order predator vertebrates (phylum Chordata) include waterfowl, frogs, and fishes. These predators must find food in these slow-moving, sometimes murky, waters, and, unlike the trout in the waters at the source, these vertebrates may not be able to use vision as their primary sense to find food. Instead, they are more likely to use taste or chemical cues to find prey.

Wetlands

Wetlands are environments in which the soil is either permanently or periodically saturated with water. Wetlands are different from lakes because wetlands are shallow bodies of water whereas lakes vary in depth. Emergent vegetation consists of wetland plants that are rooted in the soil but have portions of leaves, stems, and flowers extending above the water’s surface. There are several types of wetlands including marshes, swamps, bogs, mudflats, and salt marshes (Figure 5). The three shared characteristics among these types—what makes them wetlands—are their hydrology, hydrophytic vegetation, and hydric soils.

Figure 5: Located in southern Florida, Everglades National Park is vast array of wetland environments, including sawgrass marshes, cypress swamps, and estuarine mangrove forests. Here, a great egret walks among cypress trees. (credit: NPS. “Everglades National Park” by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0)

Freshwater marshes and swamps are characterized by slow and steady water flow. Bogs develop in depressions where water flow is low or nonexistent. Bogs usually occur in areas where there is a clay bottom with poor percolation. Percolation is the movement of water through the pores in the soil or rocks. The water found in a bog is stagnant and oxygen-depleted because the oxygen that is used during the decomposition of organic matter is not replaced. As the oxygen in the water is depleted, decomposition slows. This leads to organic acids and other acids building up and lowering the pH of the water. At a lower pH, nitrogen becomes unavailable to plants. This creates a challenge for plants because nitrogen is an important limiting resource. Some types of bog plants (such as sundews, pitcher plants, and Venus flytraps) capture insects and extract nitrogen from their bodies. Bogs have low net primary productivity because the water found in bogs has low levels of nitrogen and oxygen.

Summary

Aquatic ecosystems include both saltwater and freshwater biomes. The abiotic factors important for the structuring of aquatic ecosystems can be different than those seen in terrestrial systems. Sunlight is a driving force behind the structure of forests and also is an important factor in bodies of water, especially those that are very deep, because of the role of photosynthesis in sustaining certain organisms. Density and temperature shape the structure of aquatic systems. Oceans may be thought of as consisting of different zones based on water depth and distance from the shoreline and light penetrance. Different kinds of organisms are adapted to the conditions found in each zone. Coral reefs are unique marine ecosystems that are home to a wide variety of species. Estuaries are found where rivers meet the ocean their shallow waters provide nourishment and shelter for young crustaceans, mollusks, fishes, and many other species. Freshwater biomes include lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, and wetlands. Bogs are an interesting type of wetland characterized by standing water, lower pH, and a lack of nitrogen.


Aquatic Biomes

Terrestrial organisms are generally limited by temperature and moisture. Therefore, terrestrial biomes are defined in terms of these abiotic factors. Most aquatic organisms do not have to deal with extremes of temperature or moisture. Instead, their main limiting factors are the availability of sunlight and the concentration of dissolved oxygen and nutrients in the water. These factors vary from place to place in a body of water and are used to define aquatic biomes.

Aquatic Biomes and Sunlight

In large bodies of standing water, including the ocean and lakes, the water can be divided into zones based on the amount of sunlight it receives:

  1. The photic zone extends to a maximum depth of 200 meters (656 feet) below the surface of the water. This is where enough sunlight penetrates for photosynthesis to occur. Algae and other photosynthetic organisms can make food and support food webs.
  2. The aphotic zone is water deeper than 200 meters. This is where too little sunlight penetrates for photosynthesis to occur. As a result, food must be made by chemosynthesis or else drift down from the water above.

These and other aquatic zones in the ocean are identified in the figure below.

The ocean is divided into many different zones, depending on distance from shore and depth of water.

Aquatic Biomes and Dissolved Substances

Water in lakes and the ocean also varies in the amount of dissolved oxygen and nutrients it contains:

  1. Water near the surface of lakes and the ocean usually has more dissolved oxygen than does deeper water. This is because surface water absorbs oxygen from the air above it.
  2. Water near shore generally has more dissolved nutrients than water farther from shore. This is because most nutrients enter the water from land. They are carried by runoff, streams, and rivers that empty into a body of water.
  3. Water near the bottom of lakes and the ocean may contain more nutrients than water closer to the surface. When aquatic organisms die, they sink to the bottom. Decomposers near the bottom of the water break down the dead organisms and release their nutrients back into the water.

Marine Biomes

Anglerfish live in the ocean. Aquatic biomes in the ocean are called marine biomes. Organisms that live in marine biomes must be adapted to the salt in the water. For example, many have organs for excreting excess salt. Two ocean zones are particularly challenging to marine organisms: the intertidal zone and the deep ocean.

The intertidal zone is the narrow strip along the coastline that is covered by water at high tide and exposed to air at low tide (see the figure below). There are plenty of nutrients and sunlight in the intertidal zone. However, the water is constantly moving in and out, and the temperature keeps changing. These conditions require adaptations in the organisms that live there, such as the barnacles in the figure below.

These pictures show the intertidal zone of the Bay of Fundy, on the Atlantic coast in Maine. Can you identify the intertidal zone from the pictures?

Barnacles secrete a cement-like substance that anchors them to rocks in the intertidal zone.

Organisms that live deep in the ocean must be able to withstand extreme water pressure, very cold water, and complete darkness. However, even here, thriving communities of living things can be found. Organisms cluster around hydrothermal vents in the ocean floor. The vents release hot water containing chemicals that would be toxic to most other living things. The producers among them are single-celled chemoautotrophs. They make food using energy stored in the chemicals.

Monitoring Marine Protected Areas

Is overfishing an important issue? What would happen if fish populations dwindled? Marine Protected Areas are no-fishing zones that have recently been established up and down the California coast, in the hope of allowing fish to breed, grow large, and replenish state waters. Scientists monitor these areas to determine if this process is working.


6.11: Aquatic Biomes - Biology

Biotic Factors of an aquatic environment include living things like organisms such as bacteria, plants and fish as well as algae, frogs, fish, coral, aquatic plants and insect larvae. More animals found in an aquatic environment are jellyfish, plankton, crustaceans, sharks, and dolphins.

Factors such as light, current, temperature, water turbulence, salt concentration, salinity, flow, tides, depth, rocks, soil, and sand are all Abiotic Factors that are found in an aquatic environment.

Locations of an aquatic biome are broken up into two subcategory regions: freshwater and marine. Freshwater includes ponds and lakes, streams and rivers, as well as wetlands. Marine includes oceans, coral reefs and estuaries. - michal

Although there are many interesting biomes, the aquatic biome has one factor, which it does not share with any other ecosystem. Life began in the water and without it there is no life. Aquatic ecosystems are broken into two different parts. One is a freshwater ecosystem and the other is a marine ecosystem. The freshwater biome is mainly made up of rivers and ponds, and the marine biome contains oceans, coral reefs, and estuaries. The freshwater bionetwork flows into either a lake or the ocean, which is a marine ecosystem. These two habitats are present in any climate, because of the fact that 75 percent of the earth is covered by water. There are many organisms living the aquatic ecosystem. The producers are phytoplankton, cyanobacteria, and photosynthetic protists. Phosphorus and nitrogen are nutrients and limiting factors to the growth of plankton. Particular animals that live in the water are small fish, aquatic insects, and mollusks. The aquatic biome is clearly important part of our lives. - sam


Glossary

Abyssal zone

deepest part of the ocean at depths of 4000 m or greater

Algal bloom

rapid increase of algae in an aquatic system

Aphotic zone

part of the ocean where no light penetrates

Benthic realm

(also, benthic zone) part of the ocean that extends along the ocean bottom from the shoreline to the deepest parts of the ocean floor

Channel

width of a river or stream from one bank to the other bank

Coral reef

ocean ridges formed by marine invertebrates living in warm, shallow waters within the photic zone

Cryptofauna

invertebrates found within the calcium carbonate substrate of coral reefs

Ecosystem services

human benefits and services provided by natural ecosystems

Emergent vegetation

wetland plants that are rooted in the soil but have portions of leaves, stems, and flowers extending above the water’s surface

Estuary

biomes where a source of fresh water, such as a river, meets the ocean

Intertidal zone

part of the ocean that is closest to land parts extend above the water at low tide

Neritic zone

part of the ocean that extends from low tide to the edge of the continental shelf

Oceanic zone

part of the ocean that begins offshore where the water measures 200 m deep or deeper

Pelagic realm

(also, pelagic zone) open ocean waters that are not close to the bottom or near the shore


Aquatic Biomes and Wetland Ecosystems Biomes are considered to be global areas that share the same climate conditions and all biomes contain an ecosystem, which is made up of non-living and living species that live in the environment. An aquatic biome is biomes found in water. Inside an aquatic biome, there are also wetland ecosystems. A wetland is where water covers the soil or at the surface. The amount of water shows how the soil will develop and the types of plants and animals that live there. Wetlands house both water and animal species. Swamps, bogs, and marshes are forms of a wetland ecosystem (Ramos, 2018). The most famous wetland is the Everglades in Florida. Wetlands are very important because they act as sponges, during heavy rains they stuck up all the excess water, which prevents flooding. Inside an aquatic biome and wetland, there are keystone species, invasive species, and endangered species that are all important and make up their environment.

Keystone species are species that have a predator-prey relationship. They are critical for the functions of the wetland and influence which other types of plants and animals that make up the wetland. If there were no keystone species than the wetland would fail (Bonneau et al., 2017). In the Everglades wetland, a keystone species that are found are alligators. Alligators are important to the Everglades because they build alligator holes that provide a home for them, the holes also help other animals store food and water during the dry season. Alligators help

maintain the balance of the wetland and if they were not around, species that do not belong would takeover, and the plant population could die because of the takeover by unwanted species. Alligators are defined as a keystone species because they have a predator-prey relationship and keep their prey’s population at bay, meaning if there were no alligators where there are a small amount of fish soon the fish will be able to reproduce causing an infestation (“American Alligators”, 2017). Other keystone species in an aquatic biome/wetland are beavers, crayfish, newts, salmon. All these species give nature balance because they are able to take but also replace.

Invasive species are species that do not typically belong in the area and can cause ecological and economic harm to the environment. They can be plants, insects, and pathogens. Invasive species have the power to cause extinctions of native plants and animals, reducing biodiversity, and cause a fight over limited resources (Bonneau et al., 2017). The most famous invasive species in the Everglades is the python. Some negative impacts that the python has on the wetland are they prey on the native species, some can carry disease, which can spread to other the native species, killing the native species, which affects the future population, and they provide no food value, which leads to everyone fighting over food and other resources (“Nonnative Species”, 2017). Some things that are being done to mitigate the invasive species in the Everglades are getting more people to be responsible pet owners, making sure pet owners do their research on what is a healthy area to have a certain species in, do not let a pet loose if it is no longer wanted, and report sightings of nonnative species.

Endangered species are species that are about to face extinction. The two main causes why species are becoming extinct is because of losing their homes and genetic variation (Bester, 2020). Some of the endangered species have habits in the Everglades wetland are whooping


Aquatic Biome

The aquatic biome includes the habitats around the world that are dominated by water—from tropical reefs to brackish mangroves, to Arctic lakes. The aquatic biome is the largest of all the world's biomes—it occupies about 75 percent of the Earth's surface area. The aquatic biome provides a vast array of habitats that, in turn, support a staggering diversity of species.

The first life on our planet evolved in ancient waters about 3.5 billion years ago. Although the particular aquatic habitat in which life evolved remains unknown, scientists have suggested some possible locations—these include shallow tidal pools, hot springs, and deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

Aquatic habitats are three-dimensional environments that can be divided into distinct zones based on characteristics such as depth, tidal flow, temperature, and proximity to landmasses. Additionally, aquatic biomes can be divided into two main groups based on the salinity of their water—these include freshwater habitats and marine habitats.

Another factor that influences the composition of aquatic habitats is the degree to which light penetrates the water. The zone in which light penetrates sufficiently to support photosynthesis is known as the photic zone. The zone in which too little light penetrates to support photosynthesis is known as the aphotic (or profundal) zone.

The various aquatic habitats of the world support a diverse assortment of wildlife including virtually many different groups of animals including fishes, invertebrates, amphibians, mammals, reptiles, and birds. Some groups—such as echinoderms, cnidarians, and fishes—are entirely aquatic, with no terrestrial members of these groups.


Size Does Matter

The main different between biomes and ecosystems is size. While only a few types of biome exist, describing the different major habitats of the world, many different ecosystems spread over the face of the Earth. When ecosystems are quite similar in nature, they are said to belong to the same biome, even while remaining separate from one another. Therefore, while an ecosystem cannot contain a biome, biomes usually contain several or even many ecosystems of the same general type.


Human impact on biomes

Human activity around the world can have serious impacts on biomes. It’s important to understand and develop sustainable practices — actions we can take that prevent excess damage or loss of natural resources — can allow each biome to thrive. Common threats to our biosphere include: Pollution, deforestation (cutting down massive amounts of trees in a forest), mining, over-fishing/over-hunting (taking animals for human use without allowing a population to recover from those losses), and poaching (illegal hunting endangered or rare animals).

Vocabulary Word List

  • Biosphere – All living things and the environment in which they live on a planet.
  • Biome – A major community of animals and plants living in a unique physical environment and climate.
  • Climate – The typical weather conditions in a given area of a period of many years.
  • Ecosystem – A group of both living and non-living things that make up an environment.
  • Habitat – The environment where a plant normally grows or an animal lives.
  • Population – Several plants or animals of the same species living in the same area.
  • Biodiversity – The number of different types of plants and animals within a given area.
  • Adaptation – A behavior or physical feature that develops in response to a plant or animal’s environment.
  • Abiotic – Non-living elements of an ecosystem, such as soil, rocks, air, and water.
  • Biotic – The living elements that make up an ecosystem, such as bacteria, plants, and animals.
  • Temperate – A climate with less extreme temperature changes and precipitation throughout the year.
  • Tropical – A climate with higher temperatures and rainfall year-round.
  • Forest Biome – Many tall trees concentrated over a large area.
  • Tundra Biome – A harsh, treeless environment with very low temperatures year-round.
  • Desert Biome – A harsh, treeless environment with less than 10” of rainfall year-round.
  • Grassland Biome – A biome with large areas of grasses compared to trees.
  • Ocean – A large, deep body of water with a high salt content.
  • Freshwater Biome – Any body of water that does not have a high salt content, such as a lake, stream, or pond.
  • Permafrost – Climate conditions so cold that the top layer of soil remains frozen year-round.

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NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) – Mother and small business owner, Michelle Sweet, is feeling the strain of the Coronovirus on her children’s play center, ‘Make -A-Mess,’ so she’s making adjustments.

“We started doing take home kits including make your own snow, slime kits.”

The North Kingstown business owner thankful her facility can so easily adapt in these times while realizing others are not so fortunate.

“We noticed that Biomes didn’t…..their facility is to go visit the fish. This is their busy time with school field trips and birthday parties and all of those things got canceled.”

Despite facing her own struggles, Sweet, decided to start a fundraiser for her fellow business owner and competitor.

“I think that what tugged at my heart strings the most was with those guys they’ve been around since 1989 and Mark has always put the care of his animals first. We cannot lose a gem in this community like Biomes,” said Sweet.

Mark Hall owns Biomes Marine Biology Center and is very grateful.

“We’ve had some fantastic support from the community to help us ride this out, from Michelle setting up a fundraiser to dozens of people renewing their memberships. We’ve even had people pulling into the parking lot to donate to help feed the fish. The cost of rent, fish food and electricity stays the same whether we are open for business or not, so every bit is huge help,” said Hall.

Hall has also had to lay off his entire staff and solely cares for roughly 2,000 animals and fish at his facility.

We want to share your stories of kindness and compassion on Eyewitness News – send me your stories, photos and videos to [email protected] or find me on Facebook and Twitter and we may share your stories in the days ahead.

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Watch the video: Coronacam Aquatic Biomes (July 2022).


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