What is an ecosystem?
An ecosystem refers to a community of living organisms (like plants, animals, and insects) and their interactions between each other and the physical environment around them.
Ecosystems are diverse, and unique. Their combinations of plants, animals and their physical environment defines the beauty and richness of the natural world. Maintaining this natural diversity is key to preventing species extinctions and is a critical aspect of maintaining natural resilience into the future.
Ecosystems in the Cowichan Valley
The Cowichan region contains a range of rare and sensitive ecosystems that have very high ecological and social values. Ecosystems in our region can be categorized into three main groups: terrestrial, marine, and freshwater.
A terrestrial ecosystem is a land-based community of organisms and the interaction of biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) components in a given area. Examples of terrestrial ecosystems are grasslands, tropical rainforests, deserts and the tundra.
For additional information please see the National Geographic Society's page on terrestrial ecosystems.
Marine ecosystems are aquatic environments with high levels of dissolved salt. Examples of marine ecosystems are the open ocean, the deep-sea ocean and coastal marine ecosystems, each of which has different biological and physical characteristics.
For additional information please see the National Geographic Society's page on marine ecosystems.
Freshwater ecosystems are aquatic environments with low salt concentration, typically less than 1%. The plants and animals that live in freshwater regions are adjusted to the low salt content and would not be able to survive in areas of high salt concentration, such as marine ecosystems. Examples of freshwater ecosystems are lakes, rivers, streams, springs, ponds and wetlands.
For additional information please see the National Geographic Society's page on freshwater ecosystems.