Water covers about 75% of our planet.  From oceans to rivulets, aquatic biomes are host to a wide variety of life-forms, and minerals, from the most common algae to the most mysterious deep-sea creature.

There is still much to learn about aquatic biomes... 

Images of Aquatic Biomes

Freshwater Regions

Freshwater is so called because of its extremely low salt content.  It exists in various forms such as lakes, rivers, ponds, swamps, or wetlands such as the Florida everglades, and is host to a wide variety of plants and animals.

As the Earth warmed up following the Pleistocene era, or ice-age, the accumulation of melted ice went on to form the various lakes which are found around the globe.  Because lakes are generally separated from one another, they are home to few species and plant life.  While lakes can exist for centuries, other inland bodies of water such as ponds tend to dry up fairly quicker.  Because of that factor, the species which breed and inhabit these areas are often threatened by extinction, especially when major change is brought on my human expansion.  

Lakes and ponds, are like the oceans, in that they are divided into separate zones which are defined by their distance from the shore.  The littoral zone, which is closet to the shore is host to a wide variety of species due to its warm, shallow environment.  Various species of invertebrates, crustaceans, plants and amphibians thrive in this environment, and in turn provide food for predators such as birds, reptiles and other creatures inhabiting the shoreline.

The limnetic zone, the open water near the surface of a lake or pond, is home to a variety of phytoplankton, and zooplankton, which play an important role in the food chain. Several species of freshwater fish such as bass and lake trout can also be found this area, mainly feeding on insects and plankton.   The deeper region of a lake or pond is called the profundal zone.  This zone, shrouded in darkness, and serves as a repository for dead plankton, and is inhabited by creatures which feed mostly on decaying organisms.  Because freshwater biomes are inland, they are more subject to seasonal changes

Other areas of still waters, or wetlands, such as glades, swamps, and marshes support a large variety of aquatic flora and fauna.  Aside from plants such as sedges and pond lilies, the wetlands also support a few types of trees, such as cypress, which are highly adapted to the high humidity of these regions.  The wetlands are rich in life forms, from reptiles, to mammals, to amphibians and birds, to hundreds of insects.  Some wetlands, such as the ones found in the San-Francisco Bay area, are host to shellfish, shrimp, and other marine creatures due to their high salt content.

Rivers and streams mostly get started from mountainous ice and snow melting and springs.  Ultimately, rivers and streams end up at the ocean or another waterway.  Since this water is in constant motion, it is quite different in fauna and flora to that of lakes and ponds.  animals and plants which thrive in lakes would have trouble surviving the colder water and limited shorelines of rivers.  Some fish, such as river trout, and small scavengers such as crayfish can be found in various areas of the river; usually depending on water temperature and the exposure of a riverbank to sunlight. The colder areas are host to salmon and other more vigorous fish, whilst the warmer areas, rich in sediment and decaying matter are inhabited by catfish, carp, and other bottom feeders. River plants include floating weeds and algae, mostly found forming around rocks and submerged tree roots.

The area where freshwater meets saltwater, is called an estuary; this area usually features unique characteristics, trees and algae, seaweed, wetland flora, and various species of invertebrates, birds, reptiles and crustaceans congregate into a complex ecosystem, serving as a "trade center" to the world's aquatic biomes.

Estuaries: Where Rivers Meet the Sea
Canadian Great Lakes Region
Society of Wetland Scientists
Rivers and Streams
Limnology: Lake and River Ecosystems
by Robert G. Wetzel (Hardcover)

Lake and Pond (Exploring Earth's Biomes)
by April Pulley Sayre (Library Binding - April 1996)

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