Key Idea An ecosystem that is located in a body of water is called an aquatic ecosystem. There are two main types of aquatic ecosystems, those that are based in ocean environments (marine ecosystems) and those that are based in lakes, rivers and ponds (freshwater ecosystems). Aquatic ecosystems account for slightly less than half of the total photosynthesis that occurs on Earth.

Since the oceans cover more than 70% of Earth’s surface, marine ecosystems greatly outnumber freshwater ecosystems in terms of amounts and kinds of different organisms. Major marine ecosystems include coral reefs, estuaries, salt marshes, intertidal, and hydrothermal vents.

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