Littoral zone

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Littoral zone

In marine systems, littoral zone is synonymous with intertidal zone and refers to the area on marine shores that is periodically exposed to air during low tide. The freshwater littoral zone is that area near the shore characterized by submerged, floating, or emergent vegetation. The width of a particular littoral zone may vary from several miles to a few feet. These areas typically support an abundance of organisms and are important feeding and nursery areas for fishes, crustaceans, and birds. The distribution and abundance of individual species in the littoral zone is dependent on predation and competition as well as tolerance of physical factors.

See also Neritic zone; Pelagic zone

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littoral zone
1. The area in shallow, fresh water and around lake shores where light penetration extends to the bottom sediments, giving a zone colonized by rooted plants.

2. In marine ecosystems the shore area or intertidal zone where periodic exposure and submersion by tides is normal. Since the precise physical limits of tidal range vary constantly, a biological definition of this zone, which essentially reflects typical physical conditions rather than rarely experienced events, is generally more useful. Thus, in Britain the littoral zone is defined as the region between the upper limit of species of the seaweed Laminaria, and the upper limit of Littorina species (periwinkles), or of the lichen Verrucaria.

views updated

littoral zone
1. The area in shallow, fresh water and around lake shores, where light penetration extends to the bottom sediments, giving a zone colonized by rooted plants.

2. In marine ecosystems the shore area or intertidal zone, where periodic exposure and submersion by tides is normal. Since the precise physical limits of tidal range vary constantly, a biological definition of this zone, which essentially reflects typical physical conditions rather than rarely experienced events, is generally more useful. Thus in Britain the littoral zone is defined as the region between the upper limit of species of the seaweed Laminaria and the upper limit of Littorina species (periwinkles) or of the lichenVerrucaria.

views updated

littoral zone
1. The area in shallow fresh water and around lake shores where light penetration extends to the bottom sediments, giving a zone colonized by rooted plants.

2. In marine ecosystems the shorearea or intertidal zone where periodic exposure and submersion by tides is normal. Since the precise physical limits of tidal range vary constantly a biological definition of this zone, which essentially reflects typical physical conditions rather than rarely experienced events, is generally more useful. Thus in Britain the littoral zone is defined as the region between the upper limit of species of the seaweed Laminaria, and the upper limit of Littorina species (periwinkles), or of the lichen Verrucaria.