Dry Wetland

It is almost May and this ephemeral pond has not yet filled with water.
It is almost May and this ephemeral pond has not yet filled with water.

 

In most years, this forest pond is filled with water. Sometimes it is almost three feet deep, but usually it is about two feet. When it is flooded the pond is alive with the breeding calls of wood frogs, spring peepers, and chorus frogs. Masses of eggs soon hatch into thousands of black tadpoles. There are pill clams (Sphaerium) in the silt and tiny Planorbula snails gliding over twigs and moss searching for algae to eat. Fairy shrimp, ostracods, and copepods swim in the placid waters. Sometimes mallards and black ducks stop in.

But not this year. We are in a drought. Snowfall was below normal and spring rains have been scant. Warm temperatures and strong winds have also taken away moisture. Unless there is rain soon and enough to keep the pond filled until July the frogs will need to find other places to breed. The small crustaceans, mollusks and other invertebrates will need to wait out the drought perhaps until next spring.

Cycles of wet and dry years are not uncommon here and this pond has been through drought before. While the pond is dry sedge and grass will expand a little and some mosses will die back. The tiny invertebrate animals will remain dormant as eggs and cysts. Some may not survive and will disappear from the pond until, by chance, more come in on the feathers of a duck.

 

This pill clam from a dry ephemeral pond may need to hibernate another year.
This pill clam from a dry ephemeral pond may need to hibernate another year.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s