Aquatic habitat: what it is, characteristics, types and examples - SUMMARY!

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Aquatic habitats are the refuge of a great diversity of living beings. However, due to the difficulties it represents, life under water has not been as studied as life on land. Certainly, studying and characterizing the variety of aquatic habitats and ecosystems that exist will allow us to better understand aquatic life.

Therefore, in this interesting article by Green Ecologist, we will dive into the water and tell you all about what is the aquatic habitat, its characteristics, types and examples. Continue reading!

What is the aquatic habitat and its characteristics

We will start this topic with the definition of aquatic habitat. This is any physical space located above the hydrosphere that is inhabited by a particular species. By hydrosphere we understand the portion of the Earth occupied by oceans, seas, rivers, lakes and other types of water masses.

Regarding the characteristics of the aquatic habitat, stable temperature is essential for the survival of water-adapted biota. This differs widely with terrestrial habitat, which is characterized by sudden changes in temperature.

Within the components of the aquatic habitat that make life in water possible, we can distinguish between:

  • Biotic components or factors of the aquatic habitat: They are all those living beings that interact with their environment, with individuals of the same species and with other species that live in a certain space in the water.
  • Components or abiotic factors of the aquatic habitat: refers to physical, non-living factors that dictate habitat conditions, including temperature, pressure, luminosity, turbidity, salinity, and so on.

Types of aquatic habitats

As you may know, not all aquatic ecosystems are the same and, precisely, existing habitats in marine ecosystems differ widely in their characteristics, with respect to the habitats of river, lake and lagoon ecosystems. Therefore, there are different types of aquatic habitats that, in this particular article, we will differentiate them into two types:

Marine habitats

These habitats include oceans, seas, and salt marshes. Most of the species that live in these habitats develop practically in darkness, because the light only penetrates up to 100 meters deep. In addition, another main characteristic is the presence of concentrations of salts to which the biota is adapted to live.

Continental water habitats

This includes habitats within bodies of water that are remote from seas or oceans, such as rivers, lakes, ponds, and more. Depending on the speed of the water flow and the amount of suspended sediment, the water can be more or less cloudy. Precisely the turbidity and also the depth, determine the clarity and luminosity of the habitat.

Examples of aquatic habitat

In this section we will mention different examples of aquatic habitats. All of them present biotic and abiotic factors that together enable the development of aquatic biodiversity.

Examples of marine aquatic habitats

Examples of habitats within marine or saltwater ecosystems differ from each other by depth and the characteristics it determines. Among them we find:

  • Coastal zone: habitats with shallower depth, therefore the light penetrates and allows warmer temperatures. In coastal areas a great diversity of plants of aquatic habitats develop since light is an essential requirement for photosynthesis.
  • Open sea: habitats with greater depth than the previous case, therefore with less incidence of light and colder. These habitats enable the development of herbivorous and omnivorous biodiversity.
  • Bottom: habitats at great depths with almost no penetration of light and, therefore, lower temperatures. These habitats are often a refuge for dark-adapted carnivorous and detritivorous species. We recommend you read these other articles about the Seabed: what they are, types and photos and the Abyssal Plains: what they are and characteristics.

Examples of freshwater aquatic habitats

With regard to habitats within freshwater ecosystems, we can distinguish them according to the movement of their currents, such as:

  • Lentic: habitats with still or stagnant water. In general, they are crystalline waters since their sediments have decanted over time. The transparency of its waters allows the passage of light which makes it conducive to the development of vegetation. In this link you will see more information about Lentic Ecosystems: what they are and examples.
  • Lotics: habitats with moving waters, often carrying sediment. Generally its waters are turbid which reduces the passage of light. They are the refuge of many species of animals and, in shallower areas, of plant species. In this other post you can learn more about lotic ecosystems: what they are and examples.

In addition, here below we leave you several images of the aquatic habitat, both salt water and fresh water, in the same order in which we have mentioned them.

Animals that live in aquatic habitat

As we mentioned at the beginning, aquatic habitats are home to a great diversity of species. Here, in particular, we will mention some aquatic habitat animals.

Vertebrate animals

Vertebrate animals are defined by having a backbone. Many vertebrates have both terrestrial and aquatic life, such as aquatic birds, which nest and spend most of the time on land, but often dive in the water in search of food. However, in this section we will focus only on vertebrates that have a completely aquatic life.

  • Fish: Without a doubt, when we think of aquatic habitats, the first thing that comes to mind is fish. They breathe through their gills, so they don't need to surface for air.
  • Aquatic reptiles: They are characterized by presenting a pulmonary respiratory system. Unlike fish, they must surface to breathe. Among them we can mention sea and freshwater turtles and snakes, also marine and freshwater, as well as crocodiles, which are also freshwater and saltwater.
  • Aquatic mammals: Like reptiles, they have a pulmonary respiratory system, so they must come to the surface to breathe. Being mammals, they have breasts with which they feed their young. As examples we can name whales, belugas, dolphins, manatees and more.

Invertebrate animals

In contrast to vertebrates, invertebrates do not have a backbone. This group is megadiverse and many of them are of aquatic habits such as mollusks (such as snails or octopuses), crustaceans (such as crabs), echinoderms (among them the starfish and the urchin), poriferous (such as sea sponges) and many more.

If you want to read more articles similar to Aquatic habitat: what is it, characteristics, types and examples, we recommend that you enter our Ecosystems category.

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