Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Habitat Of Cleveland Area -- And Ohio Streams


The text below was featured on an aquatic habitat exhibit I designed featured in the Hocking Hills State Park Visitors Center. The following describes the habitat and functions--and some of it's animals.

The next time you see, a fallen tree of log-jam in the river and think it looks untidy---Think again because there is a purpose to be served! The aquatic habitat simulated in this display represents aquatic habitats found near the banks of a typical Ohio river or stream--often on the ‘inside’ of a ‘bend’ in the river. They are called “Pool Habitats”

The tree roots you see stretching out of the banks aid in the stabilization of riverbank soils naturally preventing erosion. Above the water’s surface, limbs from these same trees provide shade along the riverbank. This shade keeps the water from becoming too warm during summer months. Too high of water temperatures could rob the river's water of much needed oxygen.

Leaves falling into the river from the trees provide food for aquatic creatures such as crayfish and aquatic insects which in turn become food for fish or birds! Leaf litter and woody debris settling on the river’s bottom offers refuge for small fish. This environment will then attract the larger fish like Smallmouth Bass, which are sought by anglers. Additionally, habitats like these often provide the best fishing. Can you find the leaf litter and woody debris in this display? Rivers with banks heavily forested with trees such as Cottonwood and Sycamore usually have the highest water quality.

Species of fish which may be found in pool habitats are various types of minnows including Southern Redbelly Dace, Common and Stripped Shiners, Creek Chub, Bluntnose Minnow, and Sand Shiners. Darters and Sculpins are other types of fish that often vacate the riffle areas of streams and rivers to seek calmer waters in the pool habitat. Larger species visiting the pool habitat include Bullhead Catfish, Pumpkinseed Sunfish, and Largemouth Bass. Pictured below are a few types of the fish mentioned above, that frequent the pool habitat. How many can you find in the aquarium?

Photo: Ohio Stream Rainbow Darter "Cleveland's most colorful fish!"

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