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Life in Freshwater

Introduction to Succession in Freshwater

The pond habitat is a dynamic one, constantly changing. Over a period of years the pond may steadily loose the open water as vegetation takes over. Eventually, the habitat will disappear altogether. The time this takes varies according to the size and depth of the pond. Planktonic organisms, upon dying, sink to the bottom along with any silt that accumulates from streams feeding into the pond. However, the main culprits for making the water depth shallow will be dying plants in the autumn, especially water lilies and reeds. Gradually, as the pond fills in with this material the reeds invade further into the middle of the pond. The older reed areas slowly dry out and a swamp area behind them soon becomes colonised by alder. In conjunction with other plants water is steadily removed and with the drier conditions birch may comes in. Ultimately, the woodland develops into oak and beech to form a climax community. This is like the ecological succession found on heathlands and beneath glaciers.

Any form of conservation management to maintain a pond must therefore involve the rather drastic procedure of dredging the pond to make it deeper and reduce the reed invasion. The ecological succession of ponds can be easily monitored by digging fresh ponds and surveying commercially dug areas, typically those areas where gravel or clay extraction has occurred. Rainwater soon fills them up and the species which arrive, both animals and plants, can be seen to change over several years. Succession specific to freshwater is known as a hydrosere.

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Whatever route you take it is possible to cross to the other


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