A river ecosystem is a very important part of the planet Earth and is the foundation for the life of many species. Water is what makes our planet habitable and provides the foundation of life. Without water no living thing could live. An ecosystem is an area in which living and non living plants, animals and other things interact with one another for survival. This intricate system can be as large as an ocean, or as small as a mud puddle. Flow (or hydrology) is the central driving force of a river’s ecology.
There are many river ecosystems around the world that are uniquely important to the area where they are discovered. One such ecosystem is the Big River in Tennessee. The Big River is defined as an aquatic ecosystem that has collected water from other smaller feeder streams. The water of the Big River provides a habitat for creatures such as blue catfish, soft shell turtles, and osprey along with cottonwood trees.
The lake environment is comprised of more than simply the water in the river. There are also channels of water that flow directly into the river which are considered to be a part of the environment as well.
Another part of this particular system is the flood plain or watershed area as well as the river basin and any tributaries. All of these areas are a part of the river ecosystem and house a wide variety of plants and animals that are depend on the river for their survival.
Their are many diverse life forms in the Tennessee Big River. Plankton is a tiny micro organism that is at the bottom of the food chain and provides food to other organisms.
Another important part of the ecosystem is the black crowned night heron. This beautiful bird is on the endangered species list and eats fish and small reptiles and amphibians and helps to prevent the overpopulation of predators. The Burrowing Mayfly is a naiad larva that eats microscopic green plants. These creatures are eaten by swallows, fish and dragonfly naiads and also help to improve the water quality of the river.
The Smooth Soft Shell Turtle is another important animal. They eat fish, frogs, crayfish, insects, snails and worms and provide food for skunks, raccoons, crows, large fish, herons and snakes.
The Smallmouth Buffalo is a fish that eats insect larvae, snails and algae found on the river bottom Washboard Mussels live for more than sixty years and act as filters to help keep the water clean. They also provide food for other animals within the ecosystem.
All of the species found within this environment are dependent upon each other for survival. If one plant or animal species is destroyed it affects the whole river ecosystem.