Underwater ecosystem of Lake Malawi
Through millions of years of evolution, animals living in an aquatic environment have diversified to occupy the ecological niches available in the ecosystem. When studying the habitats of these particular organisms, three main areas of the freshwater environment can be distinctly classified.
Another distinctive niche for the animal community is that above (epineuston) and below (hyponeuston) the water surface. Epineustic animals receive food from the surrounding hydrosere vegetation, where small animals fall into the water from vegetation and are preyed upon by these epineustic animals.
Below these surface-dwelling animals are a collective of animals called the nekton, which live in the pelagic and profundal regions, though rise to the pelagic regions to feed upon these epineustic animals. Fish are included in this nekton community, which plays a vital cog in these freshwater communities. Some of these fish are only temporary members of the community, as they move between fresh and saltwater.
Anadromous fish spawn in freshwater, but live much of their lives in saltwater. Catadromous fish is the opposite of this, and spend much of their lives in the freshwater community. Each way, the fish present in the environment at any time form the link between the upper and lower layers of the freshwater community.
Previous tutorial has described how plants are the primary producers of the freshwater community, harnessing new energy from the sun into the environment. The next tutorial looks at some of the animals that rely on these plants in the community, and animals that survive in the depths of the water and along the water shore and bed.
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