Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A littoral is the region near the shoreline of a body of fresh or salt water. The term may also be used as an adjective. Depending on context, it may mean the region within a few meters of the water, or everything influenced, possibly extending back many kilometers.
The littoral zone of a freshwater biome refers to the region of well-lit water close to shore. This zone is home to most of the aquatic plantlife (both rooted and floating) in a pond or lake because the high amount of sunlight reaching it allows for significant photosynthetic activity.
The adjacency of water gives a number of distinctive characteristics to littoral regions. Water's erosive power results in particular types of landforms, such as sand dunes, and estuaries. The natural movement of the littoral along the coast is called the littoral drift. Biologically, the ready availability of water enables a greater variety of plant and animal life, and the additional local humidity due to evaporation usually creates a microclimate supporting unique types of organisms.
In human culture, the littoral is most important; a large percentage of the world's population lives close to lakes or the sea.
The littoral zone is divided into three sub-zones:
- Supralittoral Zone: The zone extending from the high-tide line toward dry land, only underwater during high tides or storms. Also known as the "spray zone".
- Intertidal Zone: The area between the high tide and low tide lines.
- Sublittoral Zone: The subtidal zone below the low tide line, permanently immersed. The sublittoral zone extends to the point where the continental shelf drops.
The littoral province of Cameroon is the richest province. It houses the biggest city in the country, Douala. Douala is the main port entry for foreign import.
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