Fragile ecosystems are local environments that are extremely sensitive to changes in temperature, air and water quality and other environmental conditions. Like plants and animals, some ecosystems are hardier than others. Fragile ecosystems are among the most frail: even small changes in rainfall patterns or seasonal temperatures can have significant harmful impacts on these ecosystems and reduce their functional capacities.
Fragile ecosystems are found around the world and include ocean habitats, estuaries, rainforests and floodplains. Such ecosystems play significant contributing roles to maintaining environmental stability on broader regional and national levels. They are easily harmed by human activities such as agriculture and clear-cutting of forests as well as natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and hurricanes.