How has the Removal of Wetlands Impacted Rivers and Streams?

What are Wetlands and their Types? What is their role? How are Rivers more important to the Water Cycle than Streams? How does Current affect Biodiversity in Rivers and Streams?
how has the removal of wetlands impacted rivers and streams
Photo by Single.Earth on Unsplash

You have always heard that Earth is covered with 70% water but not all of that is fit for drinking and other usages. Unfortunately, the water that can be used among all the water bodies is only 1.2%. Continuous wasting of water by humans without awareness results in a disrupted water cycle. Can you give an answer to the question, are rivers more important to the water cycle than streams? Well, if not, no worries, because today along with this you will know how has the removal of wetlands impacted rivers and streams and how does current affect biodiversity in rivers and streams. 

1. What are Wetlands?

A biologically diverse ecosystem that is flooded or saturated with water is termed a wetland. Water covers the soil, or it is present near the surface. This place can remain like this for years or decades, or it may be formed seasonally and last for a few weeks or months depending upon the environment. Different aquatic plants grow in the wetlands. This ecosystem serves as a home for numerous plants and animal species. (See What is the Largest Saltwater Lake in the World?)

2. What are Different Types of Wetlands?

The wetlands can be classified into different types, depending on the water and dominant plants. The water in the wetlands can be either brackish, freshwater, or saltwater and is formed all over the world. The general categories of wetlands are:

  • Bog,
  • Fen,
  • Marsh, and
  • swamps

One more is Peatland, a unique wetland where decayed organic matter or vegetation gets accumulated. The plant growth is abundant, but the dead plants decay at a slower rate than normal. It helps in the formation of organic peat. Bogs and fens are types of peatlands. (See What is the Main Source of Water?)

3. What is the Role of Wetlands?

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Image by Siggy Nowak from Pixabay

Wetlands are known to support a wide range of biodiversity and help in maintaining the natural cycle orders. They are the growing grounds for rice and breeding grounds for millions of fish. They protect the coastlines by preventing floods and droughts.

Wetlands also play a role in fighting climatic changes. Are you looking for the answer to how has the removal of wetlands impacted rivers and streams? First, let’s look at their functions from the list below:

  • Purification: They purify water by retaining sediments, pollutants, and nutrients.
  • Groundwater storage: They help in recharging groundwater.
  • Stabilization: They stabilize shorelines and blunt the force of storms.
  • Erosion Control: They keep erosion in check and control the risk of floods.
  • Habitat: It is home to various marine life, plant life, and wildlife.

Nearly 7000 species depend on wetlands in which many of them can survive only on wetlands. (See Hydroponics: Plants That Grow in Water Only)

4. Why are Wetlands Destroyed?

There are numerous reasons why these natural ecosystems are being destroyed at an alarming rate, among which rising populations and drastic climate change are at the top. Other reasons include urbanization in river deltas and coastal zones along with changes in consumption patterns. To understand how has the removal of wetlands impacted rivers and streams, read the next segment. (See What is the Largest Glacier in the World?)

5. How does Human Activity Decreases Wetland Biodiversity?

Humans use water from streams and rivers for consumption and various other purposes. However, altering the flow of water and removing wetlands have impacted rivers and streams due to the following reasons, leading to a decrease in wetland biodiversity.

  • Construction of dams.
  • Stream channelization.
  • Point source pollution from discharging industrial and municipal wastes.
  • Non-point source pollution is caused by runoff from urban and agricultural areas.

6. How has the Removal of Wetlands Impacted Rivers and Streams? 

  • Removal of wetlands may result in a subsequent amount of decrease in the underground water levels.
  • Removal of wetlands results in low absorption of excess water thereby resulting in poor water quality, floods, and drought.
  • It also affects the plant and wildlife that depend on wetlands.

So, how has the removal of wetlands impacted rivers and streams? We have to begin taking care of it as it can adversely affect the whole ecosystem. (See What is the Largest Man-made Lake in USA?)

7. How can the Biodiversity in Wetlands be Increased?

how has the removal of wetlands impacted rivers and streams 3
Image by Siggy Nowak from Pixabay

As you are aware of how has the removal of wetlands impacted rivers and streams, you must know that wetlands provide life support and are home to 40% of species that depend on the wetlands and their presence is invaluable. The biodiversity in wetlands can be increased by creating awareness and implementing laws against deforestation, dredging of rivers, and building more ecological reserves. (See What is The Relationship between Water Clarity and Urchin Survival?)

8. What are Streams?

Streams are formed when water flows through channels, it is nothing but a flowing body of water. Stream flow depends on the force of water discharge. Long streams are often related to rivers while short streams are referred to as streamlets or creeks. (See What is the Smallest Island in the World?)

9. What are Rivers?

Rivers are also water bodies that are considerably larger than streams. They are formed when branches of various streams flow into them. The source of the river is often in headwaters located in mountains and they flow towards the ocean, lake, sea, or another river. (See Types of Rivers and Facts

10. What is the Water Cycle?

The process of evaporation of water from the earth and then falling back in different forms of precipitation is termed the water cycle. Both saltwater and freshwater evaporate from the Earth. After reaching higher altitudes, water vapor condenses and forms clouds, which result in precipitation due to the development of high-pressure areas. It is nothing but the movement of water between the earth and the atmosphere. (See What are the Uses of Water in our Daily Life?)

11. Is the Conservation of Wetlands useful for Streams and Rivers?

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Image by Pawel Grzegorz from Pixabay

Wetlands trap water and slowly release surface water to downstream ecosystems like rivers and seas. This will help to manage the water flow in rivers and streams. As you already know how has the removal of wetlands impacted rivers and streams, note that conserving wetlands is important for the prevention of floods. Removal of wetlands increases the magnitude of floods, which in turn washes away the fertile topsoil from the riverbanks and streams. (See What is the Oldest River in the World?)

12. Are Rivers more Important to the Water Cycle than Streams?

Yes, rivers are more important in the process of the water cycle than streams. The water collected from various channels and other forms of precipitation is moved back towards the oceans. Rivers are scattered and run for hundreds of miles, which makes it possible for precipitated water to reach oceans sooner or later. Also, rivers are less prone to get dry, unlike streams. Must see What are the Rivers that flow South to North?

13. How does Current Affect Biodiversity in Rivers and Streams?

Do you know biodiversity refers to the habitat for a variety of plants and animals? The current in streams and rivers restricts the algae and bacteria from living inside rivers and streams. The nutrients present in water are mixed properly by the current to make it useful for plants and animals living in them. Must read How does a Glacier remain Stationary?

14. How Important is the Water Flow in Rivers and Streams?

The flow of water in rivers and streams does matter. The sediments and fine particles are carried away in different directions, thereby providing food and habitat to aquatic life. (See How are Levees Beneficial to Human Settlements?)

15. What are Currents in Rivers and Streams?

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Photo by Mark McGregor on Unsplash

Both rivers and streams have currents and are influenced by gravity or water movement. A current can be powerful enough to knock you off depending on the volume of water and channel geometry.

The current in streams are mostly of three types:

  • Perennial is fed by groundwater and flows throughout the year.
  • Intermittent streams have discontinuous flow regimes but are present once a year or during seasons.
  • Ephemeral is fed by rainwater and thus occurs occasionally. 

16. Does Increasing Biodiversity in Wetlands Increase Ecosystem Stability?

Yes, an increase in the biodiversity of wetlands leads to the formation of a good ecosystem for the survival of different animals and plants. Mostly wetlands are drained to convert the land for other uses. Thus, wetlands must be restored and protected with priority to protect the ecosystem.

So, now you know the answer to how are rivers more important to the water cycle than streams and how does current affect biodiversity in rivers and streams. Also, how has the removal of wetlands impacted rivers and streams should have been clear by now. (See What Landform is created when Two Continental Plates Collide?)

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