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Wetlands provide a strong base of plants and animals, creating a food web of energy.

In a freshwater stream, the foundations of the food web are primary producers such as watercress, moss and algae. These, along with decomposing plants and animals, form the basic food resources.

The smallest inhabitants of the wetlands (bacteria, fungi, zooplankton, algae) feed on the producers and decomposing organic materials. Minnows and crayfish feed on smaller consumers and in turn become prey for larger consumers such as turtles, fish, birds and mammals.


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Energy Webs (cont)

Finally, the consumers die, decompose and become part of the energy web. At station 2 you can see many good examples of these producers - from the Parrot feather covering the stream to the long strands of green algae found in the slower moving areas.

A closer look will reveal small minnows and an occasional crawdad. Larger predators such as turtle or water snake may be seen in the area too.

Station 2

Looking right and
facing the stream, the narrow paths cut through the parrot grass by various swimming mammals are clearly evident. Also, access to the stream by beaver and deer from several directions have cleared entrances through the underbrush in several directions. (continues, right)


There are several stumps of freshly cut trees on either side of the walkway. The stumps show the characteristic sharp point, indicating beaver-tooth engineering.

It is said that the beaver will cut trees even when they don't need the lumber--just to keep their teeth sharp.

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Station 2:
looking left


Now begin to notice cattail growth among the willows. The growth is very dense here. Minnows abound in the shallow, calmer pools. There is a touch of orange in the mud and water due to the growth of certain mineral-influenced algae species.

Near this station, the water flow from the two sources (spillway and stream) converges under the boardwalk. Twenty paces downstream, the water flow then diverges from beneath the boardwalk.

Under the boardwalk...


 

Just before Station #4, you can stand at one spot and notice that strong water currents pour from beneath the boardwalk in completely opposite directions.

Notice the interesting and artistic design of the algae and grass growth as influenced by these diverging currents. Who knows what obstacle hidden beneath the boardwalk has created this hydrological phenomenon?

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