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Domain of the Pond, Part 1: Web of Life
Forest Pond Food Web
Credit & Copyright: Dr. Bruce G. Marcot
on various parts of the main image above to
Ponds are amazing places to study, for many reasons. For one, they are microcosms of entire ecosystems. This week, we are exploring how the web of life -- the food web -- is so interconnected at one forest pond found in the remote Klamath Mountains of northwestern California.
The food web diagram presented this week is one I produced from a number of sources from my pond study: direct observation of birds, calling of owls at night, tracking the prints of large mammals along the pond edge, baited trapping of small mammals, sample plots of plants, capture of insects, and direct searches for, and hand-capture of, reptiles.
The spheres represent populations of organisms, and the lines show who eats what.
I missed some species and some linkages in this food web, and it could be
drawn differently, but it is a good representation of the surprising
complexity of a seemingly simple system.
It also illustrates how plants and invertebrates typically form the basis of terrestrial food webs (the plants ultimately deriving their energy from the sun). And how the top predators are typically far fewer in number (of species as well as population sizes) than are herbivores and other species lower down in the trophic levels.
Next week, we will dive into the pond and solve a little mystery of water chemistry.
Next week's picture: Domain of the Pond, Part 2: A Chemical Mystery
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