Pond, or freshwater, biomes represent one of the three major types of biomes on Earth, in addition to terrestrial and marine. Freshwater ponds and lakes make habitable environments for many species of plants, fish and animals due to the abundance and diversity of food and abundant shelter. Ponds exist in many different climates ranging from dry, freezing conditions to hot, tropical temperatures each of which harbor a widely varied and adaptationally unique set of wildlife.
Submersed vegetation grows up from the bottom of the pond and stays completely underwater throughout the life cycle of the plant. Typically once temperatures drop into the 50's these plants can no longer thrive. Examples include Eurasian watermilfoil found in the northern part of the United States and well known to thrive in cooler water temperatures. It is characterized by a reddish brown color, branched stem structure and feather like leaves. Similarly, Hydrilla is a prevalent invasive species in the South with whorled, ridged leaves that can grow in water as deep as 12 feet.
Some pond plants float, growing large surface areas to maximize sunlight absorption. Frog's bit, water hyacinth and water lettuce each have feathery root systems since they aren't used to support the plant in soil. Water lillies form a large group of floating plants that create habitat and also add aesthetics to ponds.
Emersed plants are characterized by their ability to grow in and out of the water. Cattails are the most prevalent emersed plant and can grow up from water as deep as three feet while the rest of the plant, including its brown spike-like flower, is above the surface.
Fish at the top of the food chain are known as predatory fish and include largemouth bass and crappie in the south, while walleye and pike dominate the north. In a balanced ecosystem, there are fewer predators than prey to prevent wiping out certain species of smaller fish while also keeping their numbers in check.
Forage fish are the fuel source of the food web. Species include bluegill, redear sunfish, fathead minnows and gizzard shad, all of which can be found throughout the country.
- Photo Credit Pond image by Vladimirs Koskins from Fotolia.com yellow lily image by Cristiano Ribeiro from Fotolia.com cattail image by Derek Abbott from Fotolia.com walleye image by Elena Vdovina from Fotolia.com sunfish image by Lucid_Exposure from Fotolia.com
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