Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Created Wetland Maintenance

We created a wetland a long while ago because we are 100% smitten with amphibians and all the insects, birds, mammals and plants also attracted to water. (So far we don't have any reptiles calling our wetland home though we hope some find us soon!)

This Northern Leopard frog is quite a creature of habit and claimed this rock long ago.

The American Toads spent the last couple of weeks singing their beautiful song...

and laying strand and strands of eggs, which are all hatched out now.

We have some Northern Leopard Frog eggs in here too. The densely packed eggs and noticeably separate eggs (not covered in an outer layer of jelly, which would mean salamander) indentify these eggs as leopard frog. Wood frog egg masses are similar in size, but less densely packed.

Green frogs are happy here too and are the most abundant amphibian in our wetland.

Our one foe in the wetland is filamentous algae. We had no problems with algae until about year three (last year).

Because the algae gets so thick, lots of tadpoles and macroinvertebrates get stuck in it. The algae sometimes covers the entire surface of the water....not good, so we rake it out.

Raking works well to remove the large clumps of algae, but there are thousands of macroinvertebrates in the algae that die if we don't find them and pick them out before the algae dries. Check out this super awesome dragonfly larvae I found:

We also find damselfly larvae, giant water bugs, predacious diving beetles, water boatman, caddisflies, and many others in the algae so we know this wetland is hopping with life.

Raking the algae takes a lot of time and killing macroinvertebrates is not ok with us so after lots of research and conversations with very knowledgeable water people, we learned our wetland is too shallow with too much sun exposure. Ok great....now what? Our fast and cheap solution is boards:

We covered at least 50% of the wetland with old barn wood to shade the water until we can get more plants growing to shade the water. We are going to introduce some duckweed to help us with this. The entire wetland is surrounded by forbs, but they don't shade quite like buttonbush, swamp rose and other water loving shrubs so we will add more of these on the south side.

We still have algae growing, but it's slower and the frogs seem to like the boards too...

Margaret Roach has some good ideas on backyard pond management including barley straw.  We plan to try adding some of this straw to help control the algae and see how that works with our shading. Pumps, filters, dyes, etc. get more complicated and/or more harmful than we would like so we will see how these simple, natural methods work. Let us know if you have other ideas!