North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

N.C. River Basins

Aquatic Habitats


While inland freshwater aquatic systems represent a small percentage of the landscape, they are living systems that are influenced by numerous conditions such as landscape position, slope, width, depth, temperature, velocity, substrate or bed material, chemistry, and land cover. The various geology, landscape, and climate attributes found in North Carolina contribute to the wide diversity of aquatic habitats found across the state. The following table provides an overview of the type of natural aquatic communities found in North Carolina and the ecoregions where they occur.  


Aquatic Natural Communities1



Chapter 4 in the 2015 NC Wildlife Action Plan provides more information about these communities and ecoregions.




North Carolina River Basins
View Map

Click here for more information about N.C. River Basins

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The NC Department of Environmental Quality has designated 17 major river basins in North Carolina. Of these, 11 river basins have headwaters that begin in North Carolina but only 4 are contained entirely within the state  - these are the Cape Fear, Neuse, Tar-Pamlico, and White Oak river basins. The other river basins have headwaters that drain across adjacent states (Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia) before crossing North Carolina.

 Table River Basins by Ecoregion



N.C. Ecoregions Map