Wednesday, February 18, 2009

10,000 Florida?

There has been debate about the value of secondary forest, and I have read similar debate about the equivalency of restored ecosystems to their natural counterparts. But what about another common semi-natural system, artificial lakes?

My grandmother lives in Florida in a condo development with an artificial lake behind her building. I’ve observed that, in Florida, there are many, many grandmothers who live adjacent to many, many artificial lakes. I’m not sure if the lakes are usually stocked with fish or not, but I’ve seen a good deal of birds around these lakes, such as the pictured group of white ibises, Eudocimus albus, and the cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis, below.

The abundance of waterbirds suggests some ecosystem value from artificial lakes. Some ecologists argue that birds are good indicators of community health (though probably not these birds, which are quite common in disturbed systems).

However, these lakes must be quite eutrophied. They are generally adjacent to well-trimmed lawns and golf courses that I presume are well-fertilized. A close-up photo of the lakewater nearshore shows a thick algal slime in the lake. To sum up: These artificial lakes are probably crappy habitat, but at least there are a lot of them…

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