Natural aquatic ecosystems are biodiverse, especially if you look beyond fish and frogs. Provide habitats and components of habitat for many wild creatures, including fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fungi, plants, insects, micro-organisms and larger animals like moose.
The importance of aquatic ecosystems doesn’t end at the shoreline. In addition to moving water to or from the surrounding landscape and aquifers, lakes, rivers and other water bodies harbour organisms that are at the base of the food web. For example, microscopic algae serve as food for insect larvae and adult insects, which in turn provide food for fish, birds, amphibians and reptiles, which again provide food for other animals, and so on.
While a number of organisms are common to various aquatic ecosystems, different groupings of these organisms can be better suited to certain types of aquatic ecosystems over others. These groupings of organisms, called aquatic communities, can be good indicators of the health of particular aquatic ecosystems. Read more about aquatic communities here and here.
Water bodies Are Homes for Birds – Important Bird Areas
Nature Canada is particularly focused on the value of Canada’s waterscapes to the hundreds species of birds that call our nation home throughout the year. Canada’s vast wetlands, mighty rivers, tiny creeks, bountiful lakes and all water bodies in between provide many important habitats for birds of all shapes and sizes. These areas (or portions of them) act as crucial stop-over sites during north- and southward migrations, and they provide areas for breeding and nesting, feeding/foraging, molting or over-wintering.
A large number of Canada’s inland Important Bird Areas (IBAs) are located on or near aquatic ecosystems. Canada’s IBAs are part of a worldwide network of nearly 11,000 IBAs in over 200 countries that represent some of the most crucial sites for birds on the planet. This network is overseen by BirdLife International partners around the world, and here in Canada both Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada are BirdLife’s national co-partners.