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Now that you know the basics of an estuary, let's dive deeper to find out who lives there, what a food chain is, and the importance of indicator species.
Plants and animals need energy to survive, grow, and reproduce. Plants use the energy from sunlight while animals get their energy from food. Food chains are a simple way to see how energy flows from one organism to another in an ecostystem.
Who lives in an estuary?
Estuaries, one of the most productive ecosystems in the world, are made up of many different habitats like oyster reefs, kelp forests, rocky and soft shorelines, submerged aquatic vegetation, coastal marshes, mangroves, and deepwater swamps. A diverse population of animals and plants call these habitats home. Fish, shellfish, migratory birds, oysters, mud crabs, aquatic plants, seahorses, blue crabs, sea turtles, and rays can all be found in an estuary.
What is submerged aquatic vegetation?
Also known as SAV, this habitat is like an underwater garden for small fish and invertebrates and tells us a lot about the quality of the water. Sea grass and other underwater plants are very important for the survival of many of the animals in the estuary. These plants can't survive without clean, clear water. Sunlight can't shine brightly through dirty water. Seagrass is a very important part of the food chain so it's important that we protect these underwater prairies.
Every link in a food chain is connected to at least two others. If a food chain is disrupted it can cause many animals and plants to become endangered or extinct. Indicator species are animals, plants, or organisms that alert us to potential changes in an environment. Oysters are an important indicator species in an estuary! Lucky and her other mollusk friends sound the alarm when the health of an estuary is threatened.
DID YOU KNOW?
Your backyard is home to a complex web of producers, consumers, and decomposers. There's a whole community of species living in and passing through your neighborhood. Make a list in your scientist notebook of plants and animals you observe outside your door. In the next lesson we'll find out more about who eats whom in your backyard. Remember to keep an eye out for things that don't belong and continue to record these items in your trash log.
Record these words and their definitions in your scientist notebook
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YOU DID IT!
You successfully completed level six by discovering who lives in an estuary! Don't forget to add your newly earned badge to your achievement chart before getting started on the next level.
Now that you know who's hanging out in an estuary, let's dive a bit deeper and earn your next badge.
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