Until recently, small continental waters have been completely ignored in virtually all global processes and cycles. This has resulted from the neglect of these systems and processes by ecologists and the assumption that ecosystems with a small areal extent cannot play a major role in global processes. Recent inventories based on modern geographical and mathematical approaches have shown that continental waters occupy nearly twice as much area as was previously believed. Further, these inventories have shown that small lakes and ponds dominate the areal extent of continental waters, correcting a centurylong misconception that large lakes are most important. The global importance of any ecosystem type in a process or cycle is the product of the areal extent and the intensity of the process in those ecosystems. Several analyses have shown the disproportionately great intensity of many processes in small aquatic ecosystems, indicating that they play an unexpectedly major role in global cycles. Assessments of the global carbon cycle underscore the need for aquatic scientists to view their work on a global scale in order to respond to the Earth's most pressing environmental problems.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||16|
|State||Published - 2010|
- Global limnology
- Lake size