Freshwater ecosystems are important for many reasons, including their ecosystem services to humans. However, this module invites students to think critically about the ecological structure, function, and distribution of freshwater systems. Freshwater ecosystems are driven by physical habitat, energy sources, water quality biotic interactions, hydrology, and connectivity. Variations in these factors result in significantly different environments, including upland streams and rivers, large lakes, floodplain rivers and wetlands, and xeric freshwaters. In the exercise, student groups will generate hypotheses about how freshwater habitats support biodiversity (richness and endemism). Students will then collect data from the Freshwater Ecoregions of the World (FEOW) database to test their hypotheses and answer a set of related questions.
Featured in: Lessons in Conservation: Water Issue