The Conservation of Aquatic Systems

In this chapter, you will learn about:
  1. 1.

    The ecological properties of aquatic habitats

  2. 2.

    Types of freshwater and marine ecosystems

  3. 3.

    Conservation problems, goals, and management strategies associated with freshwater and marine ecosystems


The majority of literature in conservation biology, as in the rest of biology, focuses on terrestrial environments and the creatures that inhabit them. Yet 71% of the globe is covered by oceans, not land. Freshwater and marine environments may hold the majority of all earth’s species, but because they are foreign and threatening to us as humans, and more difficult to investigate, they are not as well studied as terrestrial sites. The resources of aquatic habitats are vast and essential, but even those we use most frequently are mysterious to us. We often receive them, or exploit them, without truly understanding their value or the processes that sustain them.

Aquatic creatures are important in the diet of most people throughout the world, yet we have no real idea of the sizes of the populations that support these fisheries, especially in the oceans. Our lakes, rivers, and seas are repositories for all types and quantities of human and industrial refuse, yet we do not know the capacity of these systems to hold such waste, or its effects on ecosystem functions. The majority of our commercial fisheries are fully exploited, over-exploited, or in decline, yet we go on taking. The oceans of the world have long been one of the principal regulators of its climate, yet, as human activity alters such climate, we are only beginning to appreciate how such changes will affect ocean systems. Subsurface ocean topography and structure determine the abundance of many creatures on which humans depend for food, yet humans alter ocean topography and structure in harvesting food and other resources. Such alterations leave us with less food to harvest and fewer resources to use. Because aquatic habitats are different from terrestrial ones, the problems associated with their conservation also are different. Their uniqueness deserves special attention.


Coral Reef Great Barrier Reef Aquatic Habitat Riparian Vegetation Conservation Biology 
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