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Understanding aquatic ecosystems

December - 23 - 2013

An ecosystem represents a system that is based on a balance relation between living organisms and the environment. Aquatic ecosystems cover over 70% of the earths surface. These ecosystems are deeply linked to one another and are dependent on a lot of natural and artificial factors. Predicting the ways in which they affect each other is almost impossible. There are two main types of aquatic ecosystems: the marine ones and the fresh water ones. Studying these aquatic communities in essential in order to understand their role and to learn what we can do to protect them.

The marine ecosystems contain almost 97 % of the earth’s water. Due to the fact that water is one of the life supporting elements it makes perfect sense for a wide variety of species to develop within the earth’s oceans. Taking into account water depth and shoreline features,these type of systems can be divided into multiple zones. Scientists have tried to study each individual zone and the species residing in it. The seafloor and the area beneath it are amongst the most mysterious parts of earth. A while ago it was believed that the extreme conditions from the seafloor were unsuitable for the development of any life form. However recent studies have revealed that this environment is home to a deep biosphere composed of mono-cellular organisms. However exploring the ocean crust has proved to be rather fruitless so far due to the large amount of sediments that have been deposited over it. It is still unknown where subseafloor microbes come from and how they affect the ocean and alter its crust.

Lakes, rivers, coastal estuaries and wetlands are all types of freshwater ecosystems. Due to the fact that humans are constantly manipulating their environment, the aquatic ecosystems within fresh waters are the most endangered ones. The extinction rates of freshwater species is several times higher than those for marine species. Climate changes are also a major influential factor. While oceans have moderate living conditions, the same thing doesn’t apply to freshwater. Global worming can cause severe droughts which can eliminate entire ecosystems in a small period of time.
Although they are multiple and diverse, scientist have managed to understand some aquatic ecosystems and the role that they play in our lives. They major roles include recycling nutrients, attenuating floods, purifying water and providing proper conditions for the development of wildlife. The earth is, as far as we know, the only planet that supports life. Everything in it is in a perfect balance therefore we must educate ourselves to protect all natural environments including aquatic ecosystems.

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