Basically, this biome encompasses all the water bodies that contain freshwater and are salt-free.
You see, there are major differences between the water that is fresh and one with salt, and most plants and animals are unable to survive without freshwater biomes.
Here are a few important facts about the freshwater biome that you should know:
- There’s about 1/5 of the Earth covered by freshwater biomes.
- Over half of the water that humans and animals drink comes from freshwater biome sources.
- The water used to wash your dishes and for showering purposes also comes from these freshwater biomes.
- Temperatures in freshwater biomes range from 39° to 71° F
- Russian lakes contain a freshwater biome. They are also found in North America, particularly in Florida and the Amazon River.
- It takes just one foot of water to make up a Freshwater Biome. None are more than six feet in depth.
- The Florida Everglades is the largest freshwater biome in the world.
- Freshwater Biomes are always located in areas that are high in nutrition. Due to this fact, plants and animals can live in the areas with ease.
- Bodies of water in freshwater biomes come in diverse shapes and sizes, which may not seem significant at first glance but are crucial for various purposes. These shapes are designed to facilitate water collection, mitigate flooding, and support crop irrigation, impacting our lives significantly.
- Insects are popular in these areas because there is often stagnant water around to allow them to reproduce.
- As annoying as an insect is, they provide other animals with a source of food and nutrients and are very important to a freshwater biome area.
Let’s take a look at some of the different types of freshwater biome sources:
Wetlands is an area that is made up of standing water. It can be thought of as land that is saturated with water.
This includes swamps, bogs, marshes, floodplains, and prairie potholes. They can be found worldwide and are often located near large bodies of water like lakes and rivers.
Wetlands are important because they prevent flooding by absorbing water when it gets too high. In addition, they also help to purify water, making them an important part of our everyday lives.
Plants that live in wetlands are called Hydrophytes, and some of the examples include milkweed, water lilies, grasses, tamarack, sedges, duckweed, cattails, cypress trees, and mangroves.
But that’s not all that can be found in wetlands. These areas also serve as attractive quarters for multiple amphibian, reptile, mammal, and bird species. Beavers, minks, raccoons, and deer are among the animals found in wetlands.
2. Rivers/ Streams
A river or stream is a body of water that flows only in one direction. Unlike ponds and lakes, rivers and streams are constantly in motion, and the temperature is cooler at the source than at the mouth.
Streams and rivers are ubiquitous on Earth, coursing through vast distances before merging with an ocean. These waterways originate from springs, lakes, or snowmelt and ultimately flow into an ocean or another body of water.
As rivers meander, they tend to broaden, leading to an expansion in species diversity. Along the banks of these rivers and streams, you can find a variety of freshwater fish and plants. While many rivers may flow continuously through spring and summer, colder temperatures can freeze them.
Typically, plants thrive along the river’s edge. The most common types of plants include tapegrass, water stargrass, willow trees, and river birch. Animals in or around the river include fishes, crabs, snakes, beavers, crocodiles, snails, insects, and otters.
3. Lakes & Ponds
Some ponds come and go, but some have been around for years. And unlike rivers, a lake or pond is generally disconnected from other water sources, so not all plants and animals can survive in this freshwater biome.
But then, similar to rivers, lakes and ponds are found in all types of environments and continents. They range from just a few square meters to thousands of square kilometers.
Just as many freshwater fish are found in rivers and streams, many species are found in lakes and ponds. As such, lakes and ponds are important because they serve as freshwater sources for nearby animals.
Animals in the lakes include plankton, crayfish, snails, worms, frogs, turtles, insects, and fishes. As for the plants, they include water lilies, duckweed, cattail, bulrush, stonewort, and bladderwort.
Location and Climate
Freshwater biome includes lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams. While ponds are small bodies of water surrounded by land, lakes are large bodies of freshwater surrounded by land.
In fact, Lake Baikal accounts for 20% of all freshwater on Earth and is up to 1637 meters deep. However, in terms of area covered, Lake Superior is more expansive, covering 31,700 square miles in size.
Most lakes contain diverse species of plant and animal life. Rivers are nothing but moving bodies of freshwater that originate from the mountains and come down to Earth from ice melting and eventually flow into the ocean. Rivers change their course as they travel and carve a path through the land.
The temperatures range from 65 °F to 75 °F in the summer and 35 °F to 45 °F in the winter. The climate of the freshwater biome is determined by several factors, including location, season, and depth of water. Typically, the temperature will decline as the water gets deeper.
Animals of Freshwater Biome
As previously mentioned, the Freshwater Biome serves as a thriving habitat for numerous plants and animals due to its absence of the harsh salts found in other environments. This biome not only supports diverse wildlife but also significantly benefits humans.
Some of the animals that live in the Freshwater Biomes include:
Snakes are commonly found in freshwater biomes. There are a variety of snake species that are often heavily populated in lakes, rivers, and marshes, as well as the surrounding areas.
Water Moccasins are among the most common types of snakes in the area. In some areas of the freshwater biome, alligators are also found, but not in all biome areas.
Obviously some animals live in the water and on the land surrounding the freshwater biome. The animals living on the land usually depend on the lakes and streams to supply their water.
Generally, the freshwater biome is home to over 1,200 amphibian species, 700 fish species, and various insects. The mosquito is perhaps the most popular of those insects, but not one that very many people are fond of. Despite this fact, each insect and animal in the freshwater biome plays an important role in keeping the environment sufficient.
Plants of Freshwater Biome
Some of the different plants that can be found in freshwater biome include:
- Mangrove Leaves
- Spike Rush
- Water Lily
- Bull Rush
- Pickerel Weed
- Many others
Grass and sedge are two popular plants found growing in the freshwater biome. Trees are not common, but they are sometimes seen in these areas. Often, the plants found in freshwater biomes are unidentifiable to most of us.
Importance of Cyanobacteria
Cyanobacteria is largely found in freshwater biomes. Here are a few important things to know about this:
- Cyanobacteria is blue and green algae.
- It is found in almost all freshwater biomes.
- Many animals feed upon Cyanobacteria and need it for survival.
- Fleas and flies both feed on algae.
Many people travel to freshwater biome destinations every year. These people come to enjoy the ambient peace of mind and relaxation offered in the area. Of course, one cannot forget fishing, which is so attractive.
Threats to the Freshwater Biome
Although the freshwater biomes found throughout the world are essential to the survival of man, some threats put it at risk.
Let’s examine these risks.
- Free radicals that form in the air can cause difficulty in growth for both animals and plants.
- Agricultural pollution is another serious issue. Pesticides used by the farmers can seep into the ground and get washed away with the rain into the freshwater bodies.
- Eutrophication is another serious ecological problem of open water sources such as lakes, oceans, and reservoirs. It is characterized by dense algal and plant growth owing to the enrichment of phosphorus and nitrogen nutrients needed for photosynthesis. As a result, it often contributes to the formation of extensive mats of floating plants.
- Human waste and chemicals are also other causes of pollution that affect the plants and animals living in freshwater biomes.
- Deforestation, which happens along the banks of rivers, leads to polluted water runoff, polluting the lakes, ponds, and rivers. That’s because when trees are cut down, nothing anchors the soil to the ground. As a result, there is more runoff into the river. Deforestation directly affects biodiversity and leads to a decrease in plant and animal life.
Another threat to the freshwater biome areas of the world is global warming.
- Climate change causes less water to be available, limiting animals and plants from thriving.
- The risk of going dry is also very serious. In fact, some areas of the biome already have, and others are drier than they have ever been, thus at threat of going dry in the very near future
How to Protect the Freshwater Biome?
Water is a much-needed resource that we all depend upon, whether human, plant, or animal. The threats to the freshwater biome are just some of the ways that water can be depleted rapidly. Here are a few ways for you to help do your part to protect the freshwater biome.
- Learn more about your Water Source: What’s the origin of the water flowing through your facets? Is it a river? Is it a lake? Once you know the source of your water, you can learn more about that particular type. The more you know, the more you will want to help protect it.
- When shopping for toilets, bathtubs, showers, showerheads, and sinks for your home, make sure that you search for the most energy-efficient product out there. They use less water and are better for the environment.
- Use less water. There are several ways to reduce the amount of water that you are using. Turn off the water when brushing your teeth. Only use the dishwasher when it is full.
- Recycling is also a great way to help protect the freshwater biome since you are reusing products and keeping them out of these water sources. Recycling is also reusing, so make the most out of every single purchase that you make, and reuse it any time that you can.