Reference Work Entry

Environmental Geology

Part of the series Encyclopedia of Earth Science pp 381-388

Lentic and lotic ecosystems

  • G. Alex Marsh
  • , Rhodes W. Fairbridge

Inland aquatic systems are generally categorized as being either lentic or lotic habitats. Most of these are freshwater environments, although, depending on local climatic and geologic conditions, a wide range of salinities may exist, including brackish conditions characteristic of the Caspian and Aral Seas and the hypersalinities of the Great Salt Lake in Utah and the Dead Sea. These ecotopes may be perennial or ephemeral, the latter being associated mainly with strongly seasonal climates such as in the savanna belts (roughly 8 to 18° N and S), or with exceptionally porous subsoils, or with karst terrains.

The term lentic (from the Latin lentus, meaning slow or motionless), refers to standing waters such as lakes and ponds (lacustrine), or swamps and marshes (paludal), while lotic (from the Latin lotus, meaning washing), refers to running water (fluvial or fluviatile) habitats such as rivers and streams. In coastal areas, lotic systems often grade into br ...

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