Freshwater ecosystems are a subset of Earth's aquatic ecosystems. They include lakes and ponds, rivers, streams, springs, and wetlands. They can be contrasted with marine ecosystems, which have a larger salt content. Freshwater habitats can be classified by different factors, including temperature, light penetration, and vegetation.
Fresh water is vital to human life and economic well-being, and societies extract vast quantities of water from rivers, lakes, wetlands, and underground aquifers to supply the requirements of cities, farms, and industries. Our need for fresh water has long caused us to overlook equally vital benefits of water that remains in stream to sustain healthy aquatic ecosystems.