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Marine Biomes

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Submitted By smorton75
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Marine Biomes
Shonda Morton
October 20, 2013
SCI/230
Paula Roberts

A marine biome is a large aquatic zone that takes up almost 75% of Earth’s surface, has a salt concentration around 3%, and is distinguished from other biomes by its physical environment. According to Campbell Essential Biology with Physiology, (2010), the habitats of a marine biome varies depending on the level of the sea that it exists (pp.382). The layers or “zones” that make up the marine biome consist of the pelagic realm, the intertidal zone, the photic zone, the aphotic zone, and the benthic realm. The pelagic realm is the part of the marine biome that includes all open water. (Dickey, Reece, & Simon, 2010) explains “the intertidal zone is the part where the ocean surface meets land, or fresh water (pp.383).” The level of the marine biome is home to sedentary organisms such as algae, mussels, and barnacles. The photic zone was named mainly because of the fact that light is available for photosynthesis, and known as the upper or shallow layer of the marine biome. In Campbell Essential Biology with Physiology, (2010), the aphotic zone is the layer of the marine biome where the light levels are too low to support photosynthesis (pp.380). The benthic realm which exists in all aquatic biomes is the area of the seafloor, made up of sand, and organic and inorganic sediments. There are many organisms that exist in a marine biome, and each one exists at different levels to serve different purposes. As mentioned above, organisms such as algae and mussels exist in the intertidal zone, as well as a sea star. In the photic zone, there are organisms such as phytoplankton, zooplankton, fishes, and marine mammals. According to (Dickey, Reece, & Simon, 2010) the aphotic zone or sometimes called the “twilight zone”, because of its poor exposure to light have organisms such as sponges, octopus, small fishes, and sperm whales that exists in this zone. Within the aphotic zone is the benthic realm and organisms such as sea cucumbers, tripod fish, and brittle star exist here. All organisms existing in the marine biome are a part of a specific category of the tropic structure of the sea. These categories of organisms are listed as producers, consumers, and decomposers. However; consumers are also broken down into subcategories of primary consumers, secondary consumers, tertiary consumers, and even a higher level called quatemary consumers. Beginning with producers in a marine biome, they are also known as autotrophs, and consist of phytoplankton which is photosynthetic algae and bacteria. This producer is the source of energy for a diverse community of animals. Other organisms known as consumers or heterotrophs, are eaten by herbivores. These primary consumers in a marine biome are zooplankton, which are free-floating animals such as small fish and shrimp that eats phytoplankton. Secondary consumers in an aquatic environment are larger zooplankton that eats smaller zooplankton. Tertiary and quatemary consumers are large sea life such as killer whales, large fish, squid, and dolphins. The decomposers of the aquatic environment exist on all levels of the tropic structure, as they are mainly bacteria that break down dead organisms. This process releases nutrients to support the producers as well as the consumers that feed through absorbing organic material in the aquatic environment. The interaction of organisms in this ecosystem consist of mutualism, predation, and herbivory. In Campbell Essential Biology with Physiology, (2010), in aquatic environment coral reef ecosystems rely on mutualism between certain species of coral animals and unicellular algae. The massive coral reefs that are formed are made possible by the millions of algae that live in the cells of each coral polyp. The coral reefs provide food, and shelter for many marine life. Also in marine life is the interaction of predation, which is when one species prey on another for food. For example, certain organisms such as fish that live in the aphotic zone of the marine biome have to migrate to surface at night to feed, because this area is known for poor lighting. Other marine life that exist in this ecosystem prey on other species for food, such as shark, octopus, and larger fish prey on smaller marine life for food. Herbivory is a large part of the marine life, which is the consumption of plant parts or algae by an animal. Phytoplankton, known as algae and other plants of the marine environment is the producer for food of many species living in this ecosystem. The consumer relies directly or indirectly on the output of the producers. A main hazard to this ecosystem caused by humans would be pollution. The acid precipitation, toxic chemicals, and other contaminants are harming the aquatic environment, and it contributes to the dwindling population of species in this ecosystem. According to (Dickey, Reece & Simon, 2010), this human behavior has contributed to the decline in commercial fish species, dying coral reefs, and even the closing of some beaches due to pollution. The abiotic factors present in this ecosystem consist of temperature, light, water, minerals, and air. Majority of organisms living in this aquatic environment require specific temperatures to survive, although temperatures can vary according to the species. Obviously, water is a part of the aquatic environment, and is actually essential to all parts of life. Light plays a major part in the photosynthesis process for many organisms such as algae, and other plants in this ecosystem. Aquatic organisms also rely on oxygen that is dissolved in the water. Cold fast-moving water has higher oxygen content then warm or stagnant water; this has a critical effect on many species of fish. Overall the marine biome consists of many organisms that rely on each other for food, and nutrients at different levels. Each species plays its own part in how they evolve in this aquatic environment. There are also many factors that make up this ecosystem, and play a part in how this species continue to populate and exist in this aquatic environment. The interaction of these species creates a community where all species are an apart of each other in some form.

Reference: Simon, E.J., Reece, J.B., & Dickey, J.L. (2010). Campbell Essential Biology with Physiology (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pearson Benjamin Cummings

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