A pond provides food, shelter and water for the plant and animals listed here. Can you match each with its description? Answers below.
Common snapping turtle
1. I breed in vernal ponds in late winter and early spring. Vernal ponds are temporary pools created by the rising water table in fall and winter and/or runoff from snow or rain in the winter and spring. Because these ponds dry up in the summer, fish — which might eat my eggs — are unable to live in them. My young will have hatched and moved underground long before these pools disappear.
2. I have a reputation for being fierce, but I am more likely to swim away and hide in the mud or grass should a human approach me in a pond. I am too big to hide in my shell. I am also the state reptile of New York, one of the Bay states.
3. I float just below or on top of the surface of the pond. I am able to do this because my body is only a few cells thick and contains air pockets within or between my cells. I do not have a leaf or stem but may grow hairlike rootlets that I use to draw up nutrients from the pond. I am a high-protein food for waterfowl and fish. I, and my offspring, can completely cover the surface of a pond and provide cover for many of the creatures that live or hide below us. This also protects the pond because it slows down the evaporation of its water. Because I grow so quickly, humans are researching whether I could be used as a biofuel. I can also filter bacteria and nutrients out of the water.
4. Sometimes, depending on where I build my lodge and dam, I can create a shallow pond! Not only do I move more easily in the pond than on land, but the pond helps me float and move the sticks that I use to expand my home. The pond is also home to the aquatic plants I like to eat: water lilies, pond weeds, sedges and grasses. I also eat the leaves, shoots and twigs of young trees that grow near the pond.
5. The tiny hairs on my legs are hydrophobic (something that repels water) and increase the area I touch on the water’s surface so I can spread my weight over the water and glide across the pond’s surface. I use my middle legs to move, my hind legs to steer and my front legs to grab prey, such as mosquito larvae.
6. I patiently wait motionless along the edge of a pond until fish come close enough for me to capture them with my dagger-like bill. I increase my odds of catching my prey by using twigs or insects as bait, a trait not usually found in birds.
7. I am one of the most common freshwater species in North America. A pond is filled with the insects, zooplankton, worms and smaller fish that I like to eat. The bread, corn or crackers that humans throw in the water is a bonus. Because I can tolerate some saltiness, you can find me in tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. Although I am popular with anglers in my own right, I am also stocked in waterways as food for largemouth bass. Yipes!
1. Spotted salamander
2. Common snapping Turtle
5. Water strider
6. Green Heron 7. Bluegill