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Aquatic Biomes Essay

1741 words - 7 pages

By definition, biomes are major regional groups of distinctive plant, and animal communities best adapted to the region's physical natural environment, latitude, altitude and terrain factors. A biome is also composed of communities at stable steady state and all associated transitional, disturbed, or degraded, vegetation, fauna and soils, but can often be identified by the climax vegetation type ("Biome" 1). This means there can be dozens of different biomes in the world all characterized by various differences. For example, we live in what is known as the Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests biome. From there, we can be further classified into what is called the Northeastern coastal forests. There are many various biomes that can be further classified. They can be classified as either terrestrial or aquatic biomes. Aquatic biomes include continental shelf, littoral, riparian, pond, coral reef, kelp forest, pack ice, hydrothermal vents, cold seeps, benthic zone, and pelagic zone ("Biome" 1). All these biomes are found in different depths and locations in the ocean. Aquatic biomes make up more than 70 percent of the Earth's surface and are essential for everyday life.The continental shelf is an extended perimeter of each continent, which is covered during interglacial periods such as the current age by relatively shallow seas and gulfs. Continental shelves usually ends at a point of increasing slope, the shelf break. The sea floor below the break is the continental slope. Below the slope is the continental rise, which finally merges into the deep ocean floor, the abyssal plain. Though the continental shelf is treated as a physiographic province of the ocean, it is not part of the deep ocean basin proper, but the flooded margins of the continent (Pinet 35-36). Passive continental margins such as most of the Atlantic coasts have wide and shallow shelves, comprised of thick sedimentary wedges derived from long erosion of a neighboring continent. Active continental margins have narrow, relatively steep shelves, due to frequent earthquakes that move sediment to the deep sea (Pinet 90-93). Combined with the sunlight available in shallow waters, the continental shelves teem with life compared to the biotic desert of the oceans' abyssal plain. Many different biomes can also be found within the continental shelf.The littoral zone is defined as the area between the high water and low water marks found in the continental shelves. The word is derived from the Italian littorale, from the Latin litoralis from litus or litor-, meaning shore. Littoral zones are regions that contain ocean area with depths up to 600 feet and extend hundreds of miles away from the shores. Populations in the littoral zone include algae, crabs, crustacea, and many different species of fish. The littoral zone is bordered by the supra-littoral zone, also known as the "spray zone", and the sub-littoral zone, which runs to the edge of the continental shelf (Crosten 306)The pelagic zone...

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