Rivers and Streams - Aquatic Biome

The River and Stream Biome

Rivers and Streams are places where water is being transported from one place to another. With few exceptions, rivers take the water that collects in a watershed and ultimately deposits that water in the ocean. Along the way, the river biome serves as an important life-giving source to many plants and animals. In this video we traveled to the the Smith River in Montana so that we can explain what this biome is all about. The Smith River, even though it is far to the north and west, eventually flows to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River.

What lives here?

Rivers are full of life. Many forms of insects feed on microscopic life. These insects are then fed on by fish, which are fed on by birds and other animals that live near the river.  A good example river life in the United States is the Alligator Snapping Turtle.

Meandering Rivers

Rivers are not static places; they change over time. A river has a way of picking up and depositing sediment which helps change its shape.  As a river bends, the speed of the water changes. Water on the outside of a bend flows faster than the water on the inside of a bend, so sediment tends to deposit on the inside of a bend and get picked up and moved away on the outside. Over time this creates larger and larger bends. Occasionally the water creates such large bends that the river actually bends in on itself. The river then takes the shortest corse and leaves an old bend.  These old bends get cut off from the main river and are called oxbow lakes.

Species Highlight: West Indian Manatee

One of the largest North American mammals found in streams and rivers near the coast is the giant West Indian Manatee. In Florida it is called the Florida Manatee, a subspecies of West Indian Manatee. In the video below, Untamed Science Crew members Rob Nelson and Jonas Stenstrom traveled to Homossasa Springs State Park to get a better glimpse of these amazing omnivores.

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Written by Rob Nelson

Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is the co-creator and director of Untamed Science. His goal is to create videos and content that are entertaining, accurate, and educational. When he's not making science content, he races whitewater kayaks and works on Stone Age Man.

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