Marine ecosystems are among the largest of Earth's aquatic ecosystems, salt marshes, intertidal zones, estuaries, lagoons, mangroves, coral reefs, the deep sea, and the sea floor. They can be contrasted with freshwater ecosystems, which have a lower salt content. Marine waters cover two-thirds of the surface of the Earth. Such places are considered ecosystems because the plant life supports the animal life and vice versa. See food chains.
Marine ecosystems are very important for the overall health of both marine and terrestrial environments. According to the World Resource Center, coastal habitats alone account for approximately 1/3 of all marine biological productivity, and estuarine ecosystems (i.e., salt marshes, seagrasses, mangrove forests) are among the most productive regions on the planet. In addition, other marine ecosystems such as coral reefs, provide food and shelter to the highest levels of marine diversity in the world.
Marine ecosystems usually have a large biodiversity and are therefore thought to have a good resistance against invasive species. However, exceptions have been observed, and the mechanisms responsible in determining the success of an invasion are not yet clear.
- Marine Ecosystems | Biological Indicators of Watershed Health | US EPA
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Marine ecosystems.|
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—EPA: Marine Ecosystems
- Encyclopædia Britannica Online: "Marine ecosystem" — (2008).
- Smithsonian Institution: Ocean Portal
- Marine Ecosystems Research Programme (UK)