Sunday morning, I took a bucket and a large D-frame dipnet down to the puddle that used to be my pond. As I approached, the great blue heron who thinks my pond is the heron equivalent of a Shoney's, screeched and flapped off into the trees.
I walked under the little dock and out into the black ooze until I entered the puddle. When the bucket was nestled in the mud, I began swishing the net through the shallow water in a "fish rescue" mission.
The young bream, mostly bluegills, warmouth, and spotted sunfish were easy to catch (just ask the heron) and it wasn't long before I had about 75 young fish in the bucket.
The fish above are one small sample of the catch. I lugged the bucket back out of the pond and deposited the lucky refugees into a large 750 gallon aquaculture tank that had been sitting idle.
This water scorpion came along for the net ride as did the cute little dragonfly nymph below. Both are predators and their presence got me thinking about a study done by University of Florida researchers.
It seems that there may be a link between the amount of fish in a pond and the wildflowers blooming along or near it's shore. A pond with a healthy fish population will generally have a reduced population of dragon flies due to the fish preying on the aquatic dragonfly nymphs. As a result, there will be less adult dragonflies patrolling the pond perimeter eating the pollinating insects who fertilize the wildflowers.
Fewer dragonflies chomping pollinators = more butterflies and other pollinators = more successful pollination = more seed production = more wildflowers.
In ponds with reduced fish populations, dragonfly nymphs flourished with the resulting larger adult dragonfly population.
More dragonflies chomping pollinators =less pollination = less seed production = less production of wildflowers.
So, the fish in a pond may be inadvertently controlling the wildflower population around the pond. Who would have thought it?
Imagine the hidden ecological connections we haven't discovered yet.