There’s never been a more vital time to protect our planet’s freshwater biome, as it’s essential for the survival of countless species - including humans.
Freshwater biomes are divided into 3 classifications: lakes, ponds, & wetlands. This biome typically experiences moderate summers and cool winters. It is home to many types of plant and animal species, and it can be found on every continent - except for Antarctica.
The freshwater biome is a beautiful natural area and is considered to be one of our planet’s most vital habitats for a large variety of plant and animal species. Given that freshwater is such a vital resource for plants, animals, as well as humans, it’s especially important that we take care of our global freshwater biomes to secure this habitat for the health of all the life that depends on it. Unfortunately, much like many of our planet’s habitats and ecosystems, the freshwater biome is experiencing a period of uncertainty due to the ongoing threat of climate change, pollution, and other forms of human impact, which is why it is essential that direct action be taken to prevent further harm from being caused. To help you understand more about the freshwater biome, we are going to take you through some interesting facts about this habitat, which will include information about its climate, location, plants & animals.
After years of working as a conservationist that specifically deals with freshwater biomes, I have had an extensive amount of experience studying this natural area’s climate, location, plants, and animals. My studies have shown me the fragility and importance of this biome and how vital it is for our environment.
It is easy to forget just how essential and vital of a resource our planet’s freshwater actually is. While the majority of our planet is made out of water, the amount of it that is legitimately accessible to us is minuscule. It is estimated that just 3% of our entire planet’s water supply is fresh water and a huge portion of this small amount is frozen in the polar ice caps. This means that there is ultimately only 1% of all freshwater that humans can utilize.
However, most people are blind to this fact. A major reason for this is that we have taken for granted the limited supply of fresh water that we have due to the luxury of having it so easily flow through our taps. This level of accessibility to water has resulted in society becoming careless with how we treat this resource and how our use of it affects the freshwater biome’s plant and animal species.
With that being said, it is essential that we begin taking more notice and appreciation for this fragile and essential biome by studying it and carrying out practices that will result in a healthier and more sustainable planet. Luckily, in recent years we have seen a huge shift in environmental consciousness which is bringing awareness to the importance of the freshwater biome.
It’s crucial to note that the more we understand about the freshwater biome, the better equipped we will be to take measures that are calculated and effective in protecting it, which is why we are going to take you through everything that you need to know about this vital natural habitat.
Freshwater Biome: Classifications
Before we dive into the various environmental factors of freshwater biomes, it is important to recognize that this biome falls into 3 different classifications: lakes, wetlands, and ponds.
While these 3 classifications all have fresh water and may share some similar features - including their inhabitants, there are some things worth noting about each one so that they can be easily differentiated from one another.
- Lakes - Our planet’s lakes are considered to be the largest freshwater sources that lie on the surface of the Earth and are an essential part of the freshwater biome. It is estimated that there are nearly 120 million lakes on our planet.
- Wetlands - Our planet’s wetlands are a unique habitat and are considered to be the most biodiverse ecosystem on the entire planet. Wetlands are commonly characterized by land areas that have been covered by freshwater.
- Ponds - Our planet’s ponds are considered to be the smallest freshwater ecosystems within the freshwater biome. Ponds are often referred to as miniature-sized lakes that share many similar features but also have stark differences.
The different classifications for freshwater biomes make it easier for us to determine what kind of habitat exists in each classification and what sort of environmental approach is best suited for each type.
Freshwater Biome: Climate
Given that our planet is home to so many different freshwater biomes, we can expect the climate that each one experiences to be slightly different.
This has proven to be a more challenging thing to analyze with our planet currently undergoing a shift in global climate, which is impacting water levels and temperatures. The average temperature of a freshwater biome during the summer months will range from 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
It is common to see many geographical biomes that surround a freshwater biome to have a contrast in climate conditions and features. One of the most common contrasts is the biome’s rainy season. While most places tend to get the majority of their rainfall during the winter and spring months, the freshwater biome actually receives its bulk of rain during the summer.
With that being said, you can expect a freshwater biome to receive anywhere from 20 inches to 80 inches of rainfall per year. The amount of rainfall that an area with a freshwater biome receives will be based on its geographical location.
Freshwater Biome: Location
Given that lakes, rivers, ponds, streams, and wetlands can be quite commonly found in all corners of the Earth, you can expect the reach of the freshwater biome to spread far and wide.
There is some form of a freshwater biome apparent just about everywhere on Earth that is not overly dry and arid - that means that deserts and places that experience extreme heat are out of the question.
One of the most notable locations for freshwater biomes is in Russia. Given that Russia is such a huge nation and experiences large amounts of seasonal snow, a lot of lakes and freshwater bodies of water are created annually. In fact, the largest freshwater biome in the world exists in Russia’s Lake Baikal, which is considered to be the deepest lake on the entire planet at 5,378 feet.
In addition, North America is another geographical location that has a lot of freshwater biomes around the continent. This is especially the case if you move away from the dry desert regions of the South-Western part of the United States. The Great Lakes located along Michigan is one the largest freshwater biomes in the world.
Freshwater Biome: Plants
The freshwater biome is home to thousands of different plant species, which all greatly depend on the health of this habitat for their survival.
The most abundant plant life found within freshwater biomes is in our planet’s wetlands, which have far more plant life than any other freshwater biome. You can commonly associate these plants with freshwater areas that have swamps and marshes, as this sort of environment encourages plant life to thrive.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the different plant species that we can find in the freshwater biome:
The types of plants that are able to survive in a freshwater biome can vary depending on the geographical location of the biome and its environmental conditions. Many freshwater biomes are subject to extreme seasonal changes, which can make it challenging for certain types of plants to flourish.
One of the most common features that determine this is flooding. Some freshwater biomes receive large amounts of seasonal flooding that can make survival for some plants simply impossible. This is one of the reasons that you only see trees in places that have more stable conditions.
In addition to flooding, some freshwater biomes can sometimes be affected by the tides of the ocean. The saltwater from the ocean can make life for many plants that depend on freshwater an impossibility. However, some plants such as mangroves have no issue with a mix of freshwater and saltwater and can tolerate these sorts of conditions without any problems.
Freshwater Biome: Animals
The freshwater biome has an abundance of different types of animal species. One of the most common species found in this biome is the frog, which is considered to be a key species of the entire ecosystem.
The reason that frogs are such a major component of the freshwater biome is that they are an animal that determines the health of the entire habitat. Given that frogs are amphibians, they are capable of living on land and within freshwater, which puts them in a position to experience all aspects of the ecosystem.
Conservationists that study freshwater biomes will always keep a very close eye on the health and population of frog species within the area. If the frogs of a freshwater biome are healthy and have a good population, it is generally a sign that the entire ecosystem is doing quite well. However, if the population of frogs is declining or there is some sort of adverse health defect, then you can expect the health of the entire biome to be at some sort of risk.
Let’s dive into some of the different types of animal species that you can find within a freshwater biome:
- Various Bird Species
With that being said, you can also expect to find a lot of different types of insects within freshwater biomes. In fact, insects are the most diverse species that thrive in freshwater biomes. The reason for this is that insects are dependent on freshwater for their survival, which is why you will find virtually no insect species when you are out at sea.
Some of the most common insects you can find in a freshwater biome are mosquitos, dragonflies, as well as various beetle and fly species.
Human Impact & Solutions: Freshwater Biome
A very unfortunate aspect of our planet’s freshwater biome is that this essential habitat is under great threat due to human impact.
This fragile environmental area has been deteriorating around the globe at a rampant pace due to industrialization and unsustainable human practices. This has resulted in massive amounts of lands that are home to freshwater biomes becoming tainted and uninhabitable for all life that depends on it.
The damaging effects that have plagued our planet’s freshwater biomes do not only end up causing harm to the species of the ecosystem, as humans are also dependent on this biome in so many ways. Given that we also utilize the freshwater biome for our own drinking water and for our agriculture, we jeopardize this vital natural resource for all of humanity when we sabotage it.
With that being said, environmentalists around the globe are taking action to prevent further harm from coming to the freshwater biome and are calling for governments, corporations, and everyday citizens to get involved in protecting this natural area. To help you understand this further, we are going to take you through the different ways that we can protect our freshwater biome.
There is no greater threat to humanity and all life on this planet than climate change. For years, there has been a mainstream denial of the existence of climate change, which has led to a stagnation in global action in preventing it.
Unfortunately, we have reached a point where we can no longer ignore this issue, as we are seeing the effects of climate change become exacerbated, which is resulting in serious repercussions for our planet’s freshwater biome. While there have been some actions and measures taken to combat climate change, the hope is that this action is not too little too late, as we are beginning to understand that a better term for climate change is climate change.
The effects of climate change are not easy to cope with and are even more challenging to prevent. With so much of the world still behind in technology and innovation that will encourage the mitigation of climate change, we still have a long way to go before there is an optimistic outlook on the horizon.
We are seeing climate change directly affect the environmental conditions of the freshwater biome by making water resources within these areas more scarce and droughts more apparent. Given that freshwater biomes often get their water not only from rainfall but from the flow of rivers and streams, a lack of this water flow means that the entire habitat and water supply are put at risk.
Tackling this issue is going to take the combined efforts of all nations and people of this planet. At the end of the day, the threats that climate change poses to our freshwater biomes is something that we will feel, which is why it is essential that we work together in combating this global environmental crisis.
The effects of pollution are so problematic for global habitats and species, but they are especially detrimental for the freshwater biome. The fragility of the freshwater biome is much more extreme for this habitat than a marine ecosystem in the ocean - due to the lack of regenerative properties of freshwater.
The pollution that enters a freshwater biome often lingers for a much longer period of time and will not easily rehabilitate itself without positive human impact. Unfortunately, pollution caused directly by humans is impacting the freshwater biome from so many different sources.
The most predominant pollutants that enter the biome are coming from large industries. For decades large industries have blatantly ignored environmental values and concerns - with some often deliberately dumping their waste into the environment. Sometimes this occurs with pollution that is directly pumped into a freshwater biome, but often this occurs indirectly.
It is important to remember that all parts of the environment are tied together and that there is a trickle effect of human impact that reaches all aspects of it. While pollution may be disposed of outside of the freshwater biome, waste still tends to make its way inside of this essential habitat in one way or another. Let’s dive into how pollution affects the freshwater biome:
Since the rise of industrial farming, we have seen a huge increase in the amount of pollution that enters our freshwater biome. As industrial farming gained mainstream appeal, we abandoned a lot of the traditional sustainable farming practices that we had been utilizing for centuries.
A major aspect of this has come from the use of pesticides in the food growing process. While these pesticides may be useful at preventing bugs and pests from taking over crops, they are also a major contributor to the pollution of our freshwater biome. This occurs as a result of runoff from the industrial farm. As plants get watered and rained on, the pesticides from the crops begin to runoff into the soil and, eventually, into our freshwater streams - where these toxins end up flowing into the freshwater biome.
In addition, a lot of the runoff from the industrial farming complex does not only come from pesticides and harmful chemicals but from livestock runoff. Cattle farms and farms that specialize in animal products are also major contributors to agricultural pollution.
Large industries are a major culprit in the pollution of our freshwater biome, as their business model tends to completely disregard environmental impact. When you have an organization that puts profits before everything else, it is no surprise that the effects of pollution on the freshwater biome are not prioritized.
These large industries are responsible for so much global pollution, which they either do deliberately or accidentally. In the past decades, we have seen this become an ever-increasing threat, as our freshwater biomes deteriorate. This is generally a result of unsustainable practices such as oil drilling and harvesting fossil fuels, which are always subject to contamination.
However, many industries, corporations, and manufacturers often intentionally dispose of their waste directly into the environment, which results in pollution in freshwater biomes. These organizations understand that it is cheaper to dump their industrial waste into the environment than it is to treat it and dispose of it correctly.
While it is easy to point a finger at large industries and governments for the pollution that enters our freshwater biome, it is equally appropriate that we take a look in the mirror and understand that we as individuals are also responsible.
Ultimately, many of these industries create products and services that are designed for the consumer. When we buy these products and services, we are enabling the industries to thrive and to continue polluting the freshwater biome.
A major aspect of this comes from us buying single-use items that all end up going into landfills. While we may have a relatively sophisticated system for waste management, by no means does all of our trash end up where it is supposed to - with massive amounts of it entering the biome.
The damaging effects caused to the freshwater biome from human impact are difficult issues to face. There are so many things that negatively affect the health of this habitat, which means that there is not going to be a single solution that solves all of these problems.
The most important thing that can be done to prevent harm from being done to this vital biome is to create government-backed legislation that holds industries and people accountable. It is time for our national government to step up and take our environmental concerns seriously.
In recent years, we have seen a mainstream shift in how people perceive the environment, which has resulted in pressure on government officials to push legislation that is going to preserve and protect our freshwater biome. This is forcing industries and those that are responsible for pollution and climate change to wake up and take action.
With government legislation that encourages a carbon tax gaining momentum, we are seeing some real progress for environmental protection taking place. However, we are still seeing pollution across so many industries - with little to no government consequence.
To continue protecting the freshwater biome, we need to continue creating legislation that demands that these industries take responsibility for their actions and forces them to make changes in their business platform. Furthermore, the government officials that enforce this legislation need to take swift and harsh action on those individuals and organizations that violate the laws that are in place.
Education & Conscientious Consumerism
A fundamental issue of environmental awareness is that so many people around the world simply have little to no education as to how to protect nature - including the freshwater biome.
Most school curriculums breeze by the importance of environmental protection and many districts do not even have any environmental education in place at all. This is a huge issue in creating positive social changes in human behavior and values that aim to protect the natural world.
It is absolutely vital that we begin making environmental education a focal point of school curriculums so that future generations do not make the same mistakes that we made. This sort of education should encourage people to understand not only the science behind the environment but also how their actions directly impact it.
This should include how our daily actions end up impacting sacred environmental areas like the freshwater biome and why natural places like this are so essential for the survival of countless species, as well as the human race. In addition, we need to stress the importance of conscientious consumerism.
As mentioned above, so much of the harm that is caused to the freshwater biome and the environment comes from people. While completely ending consumerism altogether is not a realistic approach, we can change how we buy and use products to greatly mitigate the damaging effects. This can be achieved by taking more notice of what products you use and where they are sourced from. It is important to recognize that some products and brands practice different levels of sustainability. By supporting brands and organizations that have a minimized footprint on the environment, we directly combat the level of harm being done to the freshwater biome.
A great ideology to adopt in your daily life is to reflect on the 5 Rs when shopping, utilizing services and consuming energy. Let’s examine the 5 Rs.
- Refuse - if you do not need a product or service in your life, the best way to eliminate its damaging effects is simply to refuse it altogether.
- Reduce - you cannot always refuse a product or service, but reducing it is much more realistic. If you are able to minimize your reliance on a product or service, this can already have incredible effects on the environment.
- Reuse - so many of the goods that we buy can be reused to perform the same function more than once. If you see that you are about to throw away something that can be used again - do it.
- Repurpose - in addition to reusing a product, you can always try to find a way to repurpose it. This means finding new and creative ways of giving something that would be a waste a whole new meaning and function.
- Recycle - the R that we all know so well is recycle. If you cannot find a way to utilize one of the first 4 Rs, lastly what you want to do is recycle. The best way to implement this is to buy products that can easily be recycled and will not likely end up in a landfill.
One of the biggest contributors to the pollution of our freshwater biomes comes from human consumerism, which largely has to do with the products that we buy. By taking more notice of where products are sourced and how they are manufactured, we can directly prevent damage to the freshwater biome.
About THE AUTHOR
James Parker has a Masters degree in Sustainability with a focus on land management, permaculture and regenerative agriculture. He also has experience managing sustainability projects, and is passionate about conservation and sustainability.Read More About James Parker