Photograph by Andy Nguyen, My Shot
Wetlands, rivers, lakes, and coastal estuaries are all aquatic ecosystems—critical elements of Earth’s dynamic processes and essential to human economies and health.
Wetlands connect land and water, serving as natural filters, reducing pollution, controlling floods, and acting as nurseries for many aquatic species. Rivers, lakes, and estuaries serve as important transportation, recreation, and wildlife hubs.
Learning more about the ecosystems within your watershed—all the water in your region that drains to the same point—can help you better understand how everything is connected and what is at stake with freshwater overuse, pollution, and drought.
- Global extinction rates for freshwater species are four to six times higher than those for terrestrial or marine species.
- Forty percent of all fish species in North America are at risk of extinction.
- In the U.S., 69 percent of freshwater mussel species, which help to filter water, are at risk of extinction.
Did You Know?
Freshwater ecosystems cover less than one percent of Earth’s surface, but are home to 35 percent of all vertebrate species.
More About Aquatic Ecosystems
Learn ways to save aquatic species, and the freshwater resources that support them, and us.
Freshwater fish are dying, but scientists have a rescue plan. Read more in National Geographic's freshwater issue.
The Megafishes Project represents the first worldwide attempt to document and protect the planet's freshwater giants, which are disappearing at an alarming rate.
It's a race against time as scientists try to figure out how to save these keystone species before their populations shrivel.
Help Save the Colorado River
You can help restore freshwater ecosystems by pledging to cut your water footprint. For every pledge, Change the Course will restore 1,000 gallons back to the Colorado River.
Sandra is a leading authority on international freshwater issues and is spearheading our global freshwater efforts.
He's paddled the Colorado River from its headwaters to the delta, in an effort to bring awareness to this mighty river at risk.
For more than 15 years, Osvel Hinojosa Huerta has been resurrecting Mexico's Colorado River Delta wetlands.
Change the Course Infographic
Check out this infographic and learn how you can conserve water and save the Colorado River, as well as other freshwater ecosystems.
Water Currents, by Sandra Postel and Others
Arizona's Verde River gets a boost from an innovative partnership.
Farmers in the Verde River Basin employ new technology to benefit a desert environment.
Funny new viral video series hopes to get people thinking about the importance of water.