All ecosystems, including watershed ecosystems, are affected by complex biotic and abiotic interactions involving exchanges of matter and energy.
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Abiotic factors determine ecosystem type and its distribution of plants and animals, as well as the usage of land by people. Abiotic factors include water supply, topography, landforms, geology, soils, sunlight, and air quality/O2 availability (6.8 a).
The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary where fresh and saltwater meet and are mixed by tides. It is the largest estuary in the contiguous United States and one of the most productive (6.8 c).
Water-quality monitoring is the collection of water samples to analyze chemical and/or biological parameters. Simple parameters include pH, temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and the presence of macroinvertebrate organisms (6.8 a).
A watershed is the land that water flows across or through on its way to a stream, lake, wetland, or other body of water (6.8 a).
The watershed systems in Virginia lead to three main bodies of water. These are the Chesapeake Bay, the North Carolina sounds, or the Gulf of Mexico (6.8 b).