A pond, a large earth depression where water collects, often has a serene, shallow depth composition to it. The ponds shallowness allows sunlight to penetrate to the bottom, which allows plants to grow. Pond plants either grow entirely underwater or partially on the surface. A minority of plants will also grow along the pond’s edge. Ponds eventually turn into a large plot of soil if left untreated by intervention. Ponds will support a large variety of animal and plant life, such as birds, crayfish, small fish, frogs, insects, turtles, protozoa, algae, and lily pads. Ponds usually regulate the same water temperature ranging from the water’s surface to the bottom. Ponds may freeze solid in colder climates.
A pond ecosystem, a basic unit in ecology formed from the cohabitation of plants, animals, microorganisms, and a surrounding environment, refers to a community of freshwater organisms largely dependent on each of the surviving species to maintain a life cycle. Ponds shallow water bodies barely reach 12 to 15 feet in-depth and allow the sun to penetrate to its bottom, allowing freshwater plants to grow. A pond ecosystem consists of algae, fungi, microorganisms, plants, and various fish, which may fall into three distinct classifications: producer, consumer, and decomposer. The pond’s natural cycle begins with the producers and then to the consumers before ending with the decomposers.
A pond’s ecosystem consists of abiotic environmental factors and biotic communities of organisms. Abiotic environmental factors of a pond’s ecosystem include temperature, flow, and salinity. The percentage of dissolved oxygen levels in a water body determines what kind of organisms will grow there. After all, fish need dissolved oxygen in order to survive; however, anaerobic bacteria will not thrive in an ecosystem pumped with dissolved oxygen. A water body’s salinity may also determine the different species present. For instance, marine organisms tolerate salinity, while freshwater organisms will not thrive when exposed to salt. In fact, freshwater ecosystems often have plant species present which will absorb salts that are dangerous for freshwater organisms.
A pond ecosystem consists of four habitats, including the shore, surface film, open water, and bottom water. The shore, depending on its rocky, sandy, or muddy composition, lures in various organisms. For instance, rocky shores may now allow plants to grow, while muddy or sandy shores attract grasses, algae, earthworms, snails, protozoa, insects, small fish, and microorganisms. The pond’s surface breeds excellent ground for water striders, marsh traders, free-floating organisms, and organisms that can walk on the surface of water. An open-water habitat permits sizable fish, plankton, phytoplankton, and zooplankton to grow. Phytoplankton includes a large variety of algae, while zooplankton refers to insect larvae, rotifers, small crustaceans and invertebrates. Fish feed on plankton, or tiny organisms. The bottom-water habitat varies depending upon the pond’s depth. Shallow ponds with sandy bottoms provide a nesting environment for earthworms, snails, and insects. Deep-ended ponds have muddy bottoms, which allow various microorganisms, such as flatworms, rat-tailed maggots, and dragonfly nymphs to reproduce and survive.
A pond’s ecosystem food chain has three basic trophic levels. The first trophic level represents the producer and autotrophs, such as phytoplankton and plants. Producers prepare their own food with the energy emitted from the sun through a process known as photosynthesis. The second trophic level consists of herbivores, such as insects, crustaceans, and invertebrates that inhabit the pond and consume the plants. The third trophic level comprises of carnivores, such as various sizes of fish, which feed on both the plants and herbivores atop the first and second trophic levels. Saprotrophic organisms, also known as decomposers located on the bottom of the food chain, help decompose dead organic matter, which further breaks down into carbon dioxide and essential nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and magnesium. These nutrients supply the necessary life force for the first trophic level organisms to produce food for the second trophic organisms, which results in the perpetual flow of energy in the pond’s ecosystem.