A whole life cycle that goes around in any water body can be termed as aquatic ecological system or aquatic eco-system. The living organisms like plants and animals living in the eco-system along with the non-living circumstances are dependent on each other. The energy moves from one living organism to the other. The plants with the help of photosynthesis take in the energy which is then taken up by the animals when they eat up the plant. When the animals die and decay than their body mass converts into the nutrients in such forms that can again be taken by the plants to produce food and energy.
Aquatic ecosystems are mainly of two types
Marine Ecosystems – These ecosystems cover 71% of the Earth’s surface and approximately constitute in 97% of the Earth’s water. 32% of primary production is generated from the marine ecosystems. In the marine ecosystems we find abundant content of salt in dissolved state which is not found in the freshwater ecosystems. Seawater is also full of sodium and chlorine. The Marine ecosystem is divided into the Oceanic Zone, the Benthic Zone and the Intertidal Zone. The fishes that are caught from the marine ecosystems are the biggest source of commercial food. These ecosystems also face the problem of unsustainable exploitation of marine resources.
Lake Ecosystems – The lakes can be divided into three different parts, the Littoral Zone where the wetland plants occur. The Open Water Zone is the zone where the sunlight supports the photosynthetic algae and also other species that depend on them for food. The Deep Water Zone is the area where sunlight does not penetrate and here the food web is solely dependent on the material that comes from the other two zones.
Ponds – These are small pools that are shallow and contain water, aquatic plants and lots of marsh. Ponds can be divided into Bottom Mud, Surface Film, Vegetation Zone and the Open Water. The food webs that are found in the ponds are based on the algae that are free-floating and on the other aquatic plants found in the ponds. Aquatic life comprises of algae, water bugs, frogs, fish, beetles, otters etc. There are predators who feed on the above mentioned life like herons, large fishes, alligators etc.
The functions of the aquatic ecosystems are:
- They recycle the nutrients and recharge the ground water, provide habitats for the wildlife living in the ecosystem, purify the water and stop floods.
- Humans also use these aquatic ecosystems as tourist places especially in coastal areas, coral reefs etc.
The aquatic ecosystem is disturbed by changes in the water temperature, light availability and water flow. Chemically also the ecosystems can be disturbed if there are changes in the oxygen consuming material and toxins. Biological alterations include the certain exotic species are introduced into the ecosystem which may not live with the others present or if certain species are over-harvested like some fishes are caught in high numbers so that they cannot be found in the ecosystem.
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