Plant and Wildlife Assessment

Knowing something about the plants and animals that live in, or occasionally visit, your pond can be a source of considerable enjoyment. For most pond owners, the first step in acquiring that knowledge is to get some identification guides (books or internet sites) that include common aquatic species of the region. A sketch of the pond, recording the distribution of plants along the shoreline or submersed beneath the water surface provides an indication of its habitat diversity, and can be useful in detecting changes in vegetation (for example, invasion by alien plant species).

racoon

www.hollywoodknolls.org/images/raccoon1.jpg

Also consider keeping a pair of binoculars and log book handy to watch for waterfowl, observe the seasonal occurrence of frogs and turtles, identify dragonflies, and note the occasional raccoon, deer or fox visiting the shoreline.

Ponds can provide important habitats and food sources needed to sustain wildlife populations in the region. Unfortunately, most ponds in Chester County are managed much the same way as are broad expanses of lawn, and are often surrounded by mowed grass, limiting their ability to sustain aquatic plants and animals and also the ability of animals to arrive at the pond from neighboring habitats. The combination of mowed grass and a moderate slope means that rainfall brings nutrients and sediments directly into the pond via overland runoff. A buffer strip of natural vegetation can help reduce this runoff considerably. Suggestions for alternative "gardening" options for the shoreline, intended to enhance aesthetic appeal and wildlife habitat, are provided in Protecting the Shoreline section. Shoreline management can also have benefits in terms of erosion control and nutrient interception (Section I.E), and is thus an important means of improving pond water quality (Section I.C).

2 ponds

Mowed grass and steep slopes in the lefthand photo of a pond in Newlin Township do little to protect pond water quality, and reduce wildlife habitat. The presence of a variety of tree, shrub and herbaceous species surrounding a pond in East Nantmeal Township by contrast, can greatly improve wildlife diversityand reduce water quality management headaches.