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Freshwater Ecosystems
Kinds
Characteristics
Threats
A

fresh water ecosystem is an aquatic
system that contains drinkable water or
water of almost no salty content. It has
habitats classified by different factors,
including temperature, light penetration,
and vegetation. Its resources include
lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, reservoirs,
wetlands as well as groundwater.
Kinds of freshwater habitats
 Rivers,
–
–
–

streams

Flowing freshwater
Source: where it starts
Mouth: where it ends

 Lakes,

ponds

 Wetlands
All freshwater ecosystems
 Just
–

a fraction of the Earth’s water

.01% = one one-hundredth of one percent

 Occupy

surface

less than 1 percent of the Earth’s
Rivers and streams
More

than 3.5 million miles of rivers and streams

- Just the U.S.! More than 140 times around the Earth.

www.noaa.gov/str-plan/images/river.gif
Rivers
A river is usually cold and full of oxygen
and runs swiftly through a shallow
riverbed. As a river flows down a
mountain, a river may broaden, become
warmer, wider, and slower, and decrease
in oxygen.
Rivers

Narrow headwaters

Wide channels downstream
Lakes and ponds
What’s
–
–
–

the difference?

Ponds typically smaller
May be seasonal—that is, dry up part
of the year
Lakes exist hundreds or thousands of
years
But,

even lakes can fill in or dry up
Parts of a lake
Parts of a lake
 Littoral
–
–

zone: near shore

Nutrient rich, lots of plant and animal life
Warm

 Limnetic
–
–

zone: near surface, open water

Lots of light
Lots of plankton

 Profundal

zone: deeper, little light
 Benthic zone: the bottom, little light, low
oxygen
Wetlands
Wetlands
 Are

those areas that are inundated or
saturated by surface or ground water at a
frequency and duration sufficient to
support, and that under normal
circumstances do support, a prevalence
of vegetation typically adapted for life in
saturated soil conditions. Wetlands
generally include swamps, marshes,
bogs and similar areas."
Wetlands
May

be fresh or brackish
Freshwater types include:
Marsh
– Swamp
– Bog
– Fen
–
What good are wetlands?
 Help
–

–

clean water by acting like a filter

The plants and slow water flow in a wetland
help remove pollutants, leaving water
cleaner downstream in a lake or river.
Too much pollution can leave a wetland
toxic to visiting animals, such as many birds.
What good are wetlands?
 Protect

shorelines
from
erosion
 Erosion in
this case
came from
grazing
animals
Marsh






Most common
freshwater wetland in
U.S.
Occur along streams or
in depressions
Characterized by
organic, wet soils and
non-woody (i.e., no
trees) vegetation.
Marsh
Swamp
 Wetland

dominated by
woody plants
 Swamps occur on
flat, poorly drained
land often near
streams.
Swamp

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Freshwater Ecosystems

  • 2. A fresh water ecosystem is an aquatic system that contains drinkable water or water of almost no salty content. It has habitats classified by different factors, including temperature, light penetration, and vegetation. Its resources include lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, reservoirs, wetlands as well as groundwater.
  • 3. Kinds of freshwater habitats  Rivers, – – – streams Flowing freshwater Source: where it starts Mouth: where it ends  Lakes, ponds  Wetlands
  • 4. All freshwater ecosystems  Just – a fraction of the Earth’s water .01% = one one-hundredth of one percent  Occupy surface less than 1 percent of the Earth’s
  • 5. Rivers and streams More than 3.5 million miles of rivers and streams - Just the U.S.! More than 140 times around the Earth. www.noaa.gov/str-plan/images/river.gif
  • 6. Rivers A river is usually cold and full of oxygen and runs swiftly through a shallow riverbed. As a river flows down a mountain, a river may broaden, become warmer, wider, and slower, and decrease in oxygen.
  • 8. Lakes and ponds What’s – – – the difference? Ponds typically smaller May be seasonal—that is, dry up part of the year Lakes exist hundreds or thousands of years But, even lakes can fill in or dry up
  • 9. Parts of a lake
  • 10. Parts of a lake  Littoral – – zone: near shore Nutrient rich, lots of plant and animal life Warm  Limnetic – – zone: near surface, open water Lots of light Lots of plankton  Profundal zone: deeper, little light  Benthic zone: the bottom, little light, low oxygen
  • 12. Wetlands  Are those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs and similar areas."
  • 13. Wetlands May be fresh or brackish Freshwater types include: Marsh – Swamp – Bog – Fen –
  • 14. What good are wetlands?  Help – – clean water by acting like a filter The plants and slow water flow in a wetland help remove pollutants, leaving water cleaner downstream in a lake or river. Too much pollution can leave a wetland toxic to visiting animals, such as many birds.
  • 15. What good are wetlands?  Protect shorelines from erosion  Erosion in this case came from grazing animals
  • 16. Marsh    Most common freshwater wetland in U.S. Occur along streams or in depressions Characterized by organic, wet soils and non-woody (i.e., no trees) vegetation.
  • 17. Marsh
  • 18. Swamp  Wetland dominated by woody plants  Swamps occur on flat, poorly drained land often near streams.
  • 19. Swamp

Editor's Notes

  1. The miles of rivers and streams in the United States is equivalent to more than 140 times the circumference of the earth – 140 trips around the equator. Identify some of the regional rivers and streams known by the students.