The vegetation in watersheds affects the
quality of the water. Grasses, shrubs, and trees make up the
majority of plant cover. As they fall and decompose, they add
the organic components to the soil. Trees are the protectors
of the watershed. The tree litter protects the soilís surface
as the roots of the tree protect the soil from erosion. Trees
also provide a canopy that keeps the water cool so organisms
donít die of thermal pollution. The canopy can also
reduce the force of the rain and the velocity of wind in a
is important to a watershed to prevent the erosion of valuable
soil as water rushes downstream. Plant cover also provides
food and protection for many small organisms.
The green zone along a stream ecosystem is
called a riparian area and has several unique
properties. Riparian zones have the capacity to buffer rivers
and other waters from runoff from agricultural, urban, or
other areas. Healthy riparian zones can absorb sediments,
chemical nutrients, and other substances contained in runoff.
areas provide all the components needed for a wildlife habitat
including food, water, and cover. Diversity of organisms
living in these wetland areas is very high. A riparian habitat
includes three areas depending on the influence of water. The
aquatic area refers to the area that is the stream channel or
pond. The organisms that live in this area must be adapted to
a wet lifestyle.
following lesson plans can help your identify and learn about
the diversity of organisms along Mission Creek.