Oligotrophic pond at Chapel Pond Stephen M. Young

Oligotrophic pond at Chapel Pond
Stephen M. Young

System
Lacustrine
Subsystem
Natural Lakes And Ponds
State Protection
Not Listed
Not listed or protected by New York State.
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
S4
Apparently Secure in New York - Uncommon in New York but not rare; usually widespread, but may be rare in some parts of the state; possibly some cause for long-term concern due to declines or other factors.
Global Conservation Status Rank
G4
Apparently Secure globally - Uncommon in the world but not rare; usually widespread, but may be rare in some parts of its range; possibly some cause for long-term concern due to declines or other factors.

Summary

Did you know?

Oligotrophic ponds are low in nutrients and primary production, rich in oxygen throughout, and have good water clarity.

State Ranking Justification

There are several thousand occurrences statewide. Very many occurrences are presumed to have good viability and are protected on public land or private conservation land. This community has statewide distribution, and includes several large, high quality examples. The current trend of this community is probably stable for occurrences on protected land, or declining slightly elsewhere due to moderate threats related to pond shore development, invasive species, and atmospheric deposition.

Short-term Trends

The numbers and acreage of oligotrophic ponds in New York have probably remained stable in recent decades as a result of wetland protection regulations. However, the condition of some of these ponds may have declined slightly to moderately due to the spread of invasive aquatic species. There may be a few cases of slight decline due to alteration of hydrology (e.g., ditching and impoundments) and reduced water quality from nutrient input from surrounding developed uplands. Atmospheric deposition of pollutants (e.g., acid rain and heavy metals) may diminish oligotrophic dimictic lakes, especially in the Adirondack Mountains.

Long-term Trends

The numbers and acreage of eutrophic ponds in New York have probably declined moderately from historical numbers likely correlated to alteration of hydrology (e.g., ditching and impoundments, conversion to farm ponds). The water quality of several of these lakes has likely declined significantly as a result of several human caused disturbances (e.g., atmospheric deposition, impoundments, nutrient and pollution run-off, invasive species, watershed development, etc.).

Conservation and Management

Conservation Overview

Where practical, maintain or increase the adjacent wetland and upland buffer to reduce storm-water, pollution, and nutrient run-off, while simultaneously capturing sediments before they reach the pond. Buffer width should take into account the erodibility of the surrounding soils, slope steepness, and current land use. If possible, minimize the number and size of impervious surfaces in the surrounding landscape. Avoid habitat alteration within the lake and surrounding landscape. For example, roads should not be routed through the pond shore buffer area. If a pond must be crossed, then bridges and boardwalks are preferred over filling and culverts. Restore ponds that have been affected by unnatural disturbance (e.g., remove obsolete impoundments and ditches in order to restore the natural hydrology). Prevent the spread of invasive exotic species into the pond through appropriate direct management, and by minimizing potential dispersal corridors.

Threats

Oligotrophic ponds are threatened by development in the surrounding landscape and its associated run-off (e.g., agricultural, residential, roads, railroads, golf courses, campgrounds), recreational overuse (e.g., boating, shoreline camping), and habitat alteration in the adjacent landscape (e.g., excessive logging, pollution, nutrient loading). Alteration to the natural hydrology is also a threat to this community (e.g., impoundments, blocked culverts). Oligotrophic ponds are threatened by invasive species, such as variable leaf watermilfoi (Myriophylluum heterophyllum), Eurasian milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), and curly leafed pondweed (Potamogeton crispus). Atmospheric deposition of pollutants (e.g., acid rain and heavy metals) is also a threat to some oligotrophic ponds, especially in the Adirondack Mountains (Jenkins et al. 2005). Although most ponds are recovering from historical DDT impacts, there is the potential threat that the proposed use of herbicides to control exotic plants (e.g., SONAR) may affect non-target native species.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Where practical, establish and maintain a pond shore buffer to reduce storm-water, pollution, and nutrient run-off, while simultaneously capturing sediments before they reach the pond. Buffer width should take into account the erodibility of the surrounding soils, slope steepness, and current land use. If possible, minimize the number and size of impervious surfaces in the surrounding landscape. Avoid habitat alteration within the pond and surrounding landscape. For example, roads should not be routed through the pond shore buffer area. If a pond must be crossed, then bridges and boardwalks are preferred over filling and culverts. Restore ponds that have been affected by unnatural disturbance (e.g., remove obsolete impoundments and ditches in order to restore the natural hydrology). Prevent the spread of invasive exotic species into the pond through appropriate direct management, and by minimizing potential dispersal corridors.

Development and Mitigation Considerations

When considering road construction and other development activities minimize actions that will change what water carries and how water travels to this community, both on the surface and underground. Water traveling over-the-ground as run-off usually carries an abundance of silt, clay, and other particulates during (and often after) a construction project. While still suspended in the water, these particulates make it difficult for aquatic animals to find food; after settling to the bottom of the wetland, these particulates bury small plants and animals and alter the natural functions of the community in many other ways. Thus, road construction and development activities near this community type should strive to minimize particulate-laden run-off into this community. Water traveling on the ground or seeping through the ground also carries dissolved minerals and chemicals. Road salt, for example, is becoming an increasing problem both to natural communities and as a contaminant in household wells. Fertilizers, detergents, and other chemicals that increase the nutrient levels in wetlands cause algae blooms and eventually an oxygen-depleted environment where few animals can live. Herbicides and pesticides often travel far from where they are applied and have lasting effects on the quality of the natural community. So, road construction and other development activities should strive to consider: 1. how water moves through the ground, 2. the types of dissolved substances these development activities may release, and 3. how to minimize the potential for these dissolved substances to reach this natural community.

Inventory Needs

Resurvey known occurrences and survey for occurrences statewide to advance documentation of the current stucture, composition, and condition of oligotrophic ponds. Continue searching for ponds in good condition (A- to AB-ranked). Review and incorporate data on occurrences in NY gathered by the Adirondack Lakes Survey Corporation, the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, and the New York State Federation of Lake Associations, Inc.

Research Needs

There is a need to research the composition of oligotrophic dimictic lakes statewide in order to characterize variations. Continued research is needed on the impacts that atmospheric deposition has on this community. Three to four ecoregional variants (Northern Appalachian, Lower New England, Allegheny Plateau, and possibly North Atlantic Coast types) are suspected to differ in dominant, and characteristic vascular plants, fishes, mollusks, and insects. Tarn ponds, and flow-through or fluvial ponds, might be distinct variants worthy of recognition as separate communities, but need further evaluation. Tarn ponds occur in alpine to subalpine zones, and are typically frozen annually for extended periods.

Rare Species

  • Gavia immer (Common Loon) (guide)
  • Hippuris vulgaris (Mare's Tail) (guide)
  • Isoetes riparia (Riverbank Quillwort) (guide)
  • Myriophyllum pinnatum (Cut-Leaved Water Milfoil) (guide)
  • Potamogeton alpinus (Red Pondweed) (guide)
  • Potamogeton diversifolius (Southern Snailseed Pondweed) (guide)
  • Potamogeton pulcher (Spotted Pondweed) (guide)
  • Rhionaeschna mutata (Spatterdock Darner) (guide)
  • Somatochlora cingulata (Lake Emerald)
  • Sparganium natans (Small Bur-reed) (guide)

Range

New York State Distribution

Widespread throughout New York State, especially common in the Adirondack Mountains. Also likely to be abundant in the Appalachian Plateau, Taconic Highlands, Tug Hill, and Rensselaer Plateau regions.

Global Distribution

This broadly-defined community may be worldwide. Examples with the greatest biotic affinities to New York occurrences are suspected to span north to southern Canada, west to Minnesota, southwest to Indiana and Tennessee, and southeast to North Carolina.

Best Places to See

  • Five Ponds Old Growth (Herkimer County)
  • Bartlett Pond (Essex County)
  • Wolf Pond (Warren County)
  • Mount Redfield Pond (Essex County)
  • Cranberry Pond (Clinton County)
  • Charley Pond (Hamilton County)
  • St. Regis Pond (Franklin County)
  • Ingraham Pond (Franklin County)
  • Windfall Pond Altamont (Franklin County)
  • Windfall Pond Webb (Herkimer County)
  • Twin Ponds (Franklin County)
  • Crystal Lake (St. Lawrence County)
  • Horseshoe Pond (Franklin County)
  • Plumadore Pond (Franklin County)
  • Stink Lake (Herkimer County)
  • Tamarack Pond (St. Lawrence County)
  • Dix Pond (Essex County)
  • Nate Pond (Essex County)
  • Horn Lake (Herkimer County)
  • Chaumont Pond (St. Lawrence County)
  • Middle Branch Lake (Herkimer County)
  • Polliwog Pond (Franklin County)
  • Constable Pond (Hamilton County)
  • Kildare Pond (Little Kildare Forest) (St. Lawrence County)
  • South Pond Long Lake (Hamilton County)
  • Tug Hill Plateau (Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego Counties)
  • Rensselaer Plateau (Rensselaer County)

Identification Comments

General Description

The aquatic community of a small, shallow, nutrient-poor pond. The water is very clear, and the bottom is usually sandy or rocky. Oligotrophic ponds are too shallow to remain thermally stratified throughout the summer; they often freeze and become inversely stratified in the winter (coldest water at the surface), therefore they are winter-stratified monomictic ponds. Additional characteristic features of an oligotrophic pond include the following: blue or green water with high transparency (Secchi disk depths of 4 to 8 m); water low in plant nutrients (especially low in nitrogen, also low in calcium); low primary productivity (inorganic carbon fixed = 7 to 25 g/m2/yr). Alkalinity is typically low (less than 12.5 mg/l calcium carbonate).

Characters Most Useful for Identification

Aquatic vegetation is typically sparse, and species diversity is low. Littoral, epilimnion, and acidic tolerant species assemblages are usually dominant. Characteristic species are rosette-leaved aquatics such as pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum), water lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna), and quillwort (Isoetes echinospora). Additional characteristic aquatic macrophytes may include ribbon-leaved pondweed (Potamogeton epihydrus), Farwell’s water milfoil (Myriophyllum farwellii), bladderwort (Utricularia macrorhiza), and floating bur-reed (Sparganium fluctuans).

Elevation Range

Known examples of this community have been found at elevations between 1,416 feet and 2,011 feet.

Best Time to See

Small oligotrophic ponds can be viewed year round from the shore. Larger ponds are fun to explore in mid- to late summer by canoe. Since these ponds have very clear water they are great to explore by snorkeling.

Oligotrophic Pond Images

Classification

Characteristic Species

Nonvascular plants

phytoplankton (Asterionella spp.)

phytoplankton (Tabellaria spp.)

Emergent aquatics

Eriocaulon aquaticum (northern pipewort, northern hat-pins)

Sparganium fluctuans (floating bur-reed)

Floating-leaved aquatics

Potamogeton epihydrus (ribbon-leaved pondweed)

Submerged aquatics

Isoetes echinospora ssp. muricata (spiny-spored quillwort)

Lobelia dortmanna (water lobelia)

Myriophyllum farwellii (Farwell's water milfoil)

Utricularia vulgaris ssp. macrorhiza (greater bladderwort)

Unvegetated

backswimmers (Notonectidae)

creek chub (Semotilus atromaculatus)

diving beetles (Dytiscidae)

odonate (Cordulia shurtleffii)

odonates (Aeshna spp.)

odonates (Ischnura spp.)

odonates (Leccorrhinia spp.)

pea clams (Pisidium spp.)

water boatman (Corixidae)

zooplankton (Keratella spp.)

zooplankton - nauplii (crustacean larvae).

Similar Ecological Communities

  • Bog lake/pond (guide)
    Bog lake/pond: The aquatic community of a dystrophic lake (an acidic lake with brownish water that contains a high amount of organic matter) that typically occurs in a small, shallow basin (e.g., a kettehole) that is protected from wind and is poorly drained. These lakes occur in areas with non-calcareous bedrock or glacial till; many are fringed or surrounded by a floating mat of vegetation (in New York usually either bog or poor fen). Characteristic features of a dystrophic lake include the following: murky water that is stained brown, with low transparency; water that is low in plant nutrients (especially low in calcium), with naturally low pH (less than 5.4); and the lake may have oxygen deficiencies in deeper water (the profundal zone). The lack of calcium blocks bacterial action, reducing the rate of decay of organic matter with subsequent accumulation of peat or muck sediments. Colloidal and dissolved humus material reduces transparency and increases acidity of the water. Characteristic macrophytes include water-shield (Brasenia schreberi), fragrant white water lily (Nymphaea odorata), yellow pond-lily (Nuphar microphylla, and Nuphar variegata), bladderworts (Utricularia vulgaris, U. geminiscapa, U. purpurea), pondweeds (Potamogeton epihydrus, P. oakesianus), bur-reeds (Sparganium fluctuans, S. angustifolium), and clubrush (Scirpus subterminalis). Characteristic zooplankton may include the rotifers Keratella spp. and Brachionus spp. Oligotrophic pond: The aquatic community of a small, shallow, nutrient-poor pond. The water is very clear, and the bottom is usually sandy or rocky. Aquatic vegetation is typically sparse, and species diversity is low. Characteristic species are rosette-leaved aquatics such as pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum), water lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna), and quillwort (Isoetes echinospora). Oligotrophic ponds are too shallow to remain thermally stratified throughout the summer; they often freeze and become inversely stratified in the winter (coldest water at the surface), therefore they are winter-stratified monomictic ponds. Additional characteristic features of an oligotrophic pond include the following: blue or green water with high transparency (Secchi disk depths of 4 to 8 m); water low in plant nutrients (especially low in nitrogen, also low in calcium); low primary productivity (inorganic carbon fixed = 7 to 25 g/m2/yr). Alkalinity is typically low (less than 12.5 mg/l calcium carbonate).
  • Eutrophic dimictic lake (guide)
    Oligotrophic pond: The aquatic community of a small, shallow, nutrient-poor pond. The water is very clear, and the bottom is usually sandy or rocky. Aquatic vegetation is typically sparse, and species diversity is low. Characteristic species are rosette-leaved aquatics such as pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum), water lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna), and quillwort (Isoetes echinospora). Oligotrophic ponds are too shallow to remain thermally stratified throughout the summer; they often freeze and become inversely stratified in the winter (coldest water at the surface), therefore they are winter-stratified monomictic ponds. Additional characteristic features of an oligotrophic pond include the following: blue or green water with high transparency (Secchi disk depths of 4 to 8 m); water low in plant nutrients (especially low in nitrogen, also low in calcium); low primary productivity (inorganic carbon fixed = 7 to 25 g/m2/yr). Alkalinity is typically low (less than 12.5 mg/l calcium carbonate). Eutrophic dimictic lake: The aquatic community of a nutrient-rich lake that occurs in a broad, shallow basin. These lakes are dimictic: they have two periods of mixing or turnover (spring and fall); they are thermally stratified in the summer, and they freeze over and become inversely stratified in the winter. Aquatic macrophytes are abundant in shallow water, and there are many species present, but species diversity is generally lower than in mesotrophic lakes. Characteristic plants include tapegrass (Vallisneria americana), pondweeds (Potamogeton spp.), bur-reeds (Sparganium spp.), and the floating aquatic plants white water-lily (Nymphaea spp.), yellow pond-lily (Nuphar luteum), and water-shield (Brasenia schreberi). Characteristic features of a eutrophic lake include the following: yellow, green, or brownish-green water that is murky, with low transparency (Secchi disk depths typically less than 2.5 m, but up to 4 m in some cases); water rich in plant nutrients (especially high in phosphorus, nitrogen and calcium); high primary productivity (inorganic carbon fixed = 75 to 250 g/m2/yr); lake sediments that are rich in organic matter (usually consisting of a fine organic silt or copropel); water that is well-oxygenated above the summer thermocline, but oxygen-depleted below the summer thermocline or under ice; epilimnion volume that is relatively large compared with hypolimnion; and a weedy shoreline. Alkalinity is typically high (greater than 12.5 mg/l calcium carbonate).
  • Eutrophic pond (guide)
    Oligotrophic pond: The aquatic community of a small, shallow, nutrient-poor pond. The water is very clear, and the bottom is usually sandy or rocky. Aquatic vegetation is typically sparse, and species diversity is low. Characteristic species are rosette-leaved aquatics such as pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum), water lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna), and quillwort (Isoetes echinospora). Oligotrophic ponds are too shallow to remain thermally stratified throughout the summer; they often freeze and become inversely stratified in the winter (coldest water at the surface), therefore they are winter-stratified monomictic ponds. Additional characteristic features of an oligotrophic pond include the following: blue or green water with high transparency (Secchi disk depths of 4 to 8 m); water low in plant nutrients (especially low in nitrogen, also low in calcium); low primary productivity (inorganic carbon fixed = 7 to 25 g/m2/yr). Alkalinity is typically low (less than 12.5 mg/l calcium carbonate). Eutrophic ponds: The aquatic community of a small, shallow, nutrient-rich pond. Species diversity is typically high. Aquatic vegetation is abundant. Characteristic plants include coontail (Ceratophyllum demersum), duckweeds (Lemna minor, L. trisulca), waterweed (Elodea canadensis), pondweeds (Potamogeton spp.), water starwort (Heteranthera dubia), bladderworts (Utricularia spp.), naiad (Najas flexilis), tapegrass or wild celery (Vallisneria americana), algae (Cladophora spp.), common yellow pond-lily (Nuphar variegata), and white water-lily (Nymphaea odorata). The water is usually green with algae, and the bottom is mucky. Eutrophic ponds are too shallow to remain thermally stratified throughout the summer; they often freeze and become inversely stratified in the winter (coldest water at the surface), therefore they are winter-stratified monomictic ponds. Additional characteristic features of a eutrophic pond include the following: water that is murky, with low transparency (Secchi disk depths typically less than 4 m); water rich in plant nutrients (especially high in phosphorus, nitrogen, and calcium), high primary productivity (inorganic carbon fixed = 75 to 250 g/m2/yr) and a weedy shoreline. Alkalinity is typically high (greater than 12.5 mg/l calcium carbonate).
  • Meromictic lake (guide)
    Meromictic lake: the aquatic community of a relatively deep lake with small surface area that is so protected from wind-stirring that it has no annual periods of complete mixing, and remains chemically stratified throughout the year. These lakes may be protected from mixing by a sheltered surrounding landscape (e.g., a deep basin) or by adjacent tree cover. Meromictic lakes in New York freeze over and become inversely stratified in the winter (coldest water at the surface); they pass through spring, and fall periods of isothermy without circulating. Meromictic lakes frequently have dichothermic stratification, meaning that the minimum temperature occurs in the middle stratum. The stagnant waters in the lower part of a meromictic lake become heavily loaded with dissolved salts, and lack oxygen. Chemical stratification is most often measured by salinity gradients, or total cation and anion concentrations. Gradients may be present for chemicals, such as hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, phosphorus, or iron. Flushing rates are typically low. Some examples of this lake type may be dystrophic, and thus resemble bog lakes. Species diversity is low because very few organisms can tolerate the extreme chemical conditions of the lower strata of a meromictic lake. Fishes are absent or sparse. Oligotrophic pond: The aquatic community of a small, shallow, nutrient-poor pond. The water is very clear, and the bottom is usually sandy or rocky. Aquatic vegetation is typically sparse, and species diversity is low. Characteristic species are rosette-leaved aquatics such as pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum), water lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna), and quillwort (Isoetes echinospora). Oligotrophic ponds are too shallow to remain thermally stratified throughout the summer; they often freeze and become inversely stratified in the winter (coldest water at the surface), therefore they are winter-stratified monomictic ponds. Additional characteristic features of an oligotrophic pond include the following: blue or green water with high transparency (Secchi disk depths of 4 to 8 m); water low in plant nutrients (especially low in nitrogen, also low in calcium); low primary productivity (inorganic carbon fixed = 7 to 25 g/m2/yr). Alkalinity is typically low (less than 12.5 mg/l calcium carbonate).
  • Mesotrophic dimictic lake (guide)
    Mesotrophic dimictic lake: The aquatic community of a lake that is intermediate between an oligotrophic lake and a eutrophic lake. These lakes are dimictic: they have two periods of mixing or turnover (spring and fall), they are thermally stratified in the summer (warmest water at the surface), and they freeze over and become inversely stratified in the winter (coldest water at the surface). These lakes typically have a diverse mixture of submerged macrophytes, such as several species of pondweeds (Potamogeton amplifolius, P. praelongus, P. robbinsii), water celery or tape grass (Vallisneria americana), and bladderworts (Utricularia spp.). Characteristic features of a mesotrophic lake include the following: water with medium transparency (Secchi disk depths of 2 to 4 m); water with moderate amounts of plant nutrients; moderate primary productivity (inorganic carbon fixed = 25 to 75 g/m2/yr); lake sediments with moderate amounts of organic matter; and moderately well-oxygenated water. Alkalinity is typically moderate (slightly greater than 12.5 mg/l calcium carbonate). Oligotrophic pond: The aquatic community of a small, shallow, nutrient-poor pond. The water is very clear, and the bottom is usually sandy or rocky. Aquatic vegetation is typically sparse, and species diversity is low. Characteristic species are rosette-leaved aquatics such as pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum), water lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna), and quillwort (Isoetes echinospora). Oligotrophic ponds are too shallow to remain thermally stratified throughout the summer; they often freeze and become inversely stratified in the winter (coldest water at the surface), therefore they are winter-stratified monomictic ponds. Additional characteristic features of an oligotrophic pond include the following: blue or green water with high transparency (Secchi disk depths of 4 to 8 m); water low in plant nutrients (especially low in nitrogen, also low in calcium); low primary productivity (inorganic carbon fixed = 7 to 25 g/m2/yr). Alkalinity is typically low (less than 12.5 mg/l calcium carbonate).
  • Oligotrophic dimictic lake (guide)
    Oligotrophic dimictic lake: The aquatic community of a nutrient-poor lake that often occurs in deep, steeply-banked basins. These lakes are dimictic, meaning they have two periods of mixing and turnover (spring and fall); they are stratified in the summer, then they freeze in winter and become inversely stratified. Common physical characteristics of oligotrophic lakes include blue or green highly transparent water (Secchi disk depths from 4 to 8 m), low dissolved nutrients (especially nitrogen and calcium), low primary productivity, and sediment with low levels of organic matter. Additionally, the lakes have an epilimnion volume that is low relative to the hypolimnion, high dissolved oxygen levels year-round through all strata, and low alkalinity. The plant community is primarily in the shallow parts of the lake, between 1 and 3 m (3 to 10 feet), and is dominated by rosette-leaved aquatic species. Characteristic species include seven-angle pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum), water lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna), quillworts (Isoetes echinospora ssp. muricata, I. lacustris), milfoils (Myriophyllum alterniflorum, M. tenellum), bladderworts (Utricularia purpuea, U. resupinata), tape grass (Vallisneria americana), and creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens). Oligotrophic pond: The aquatic community of a small, shallow, nutrient-poor pond. The water is very clear, and the bottom is usually sandy or rocky. Aquatic vegetation is typically sparse, and species diversity is low. Characteristic species are rosette-leaved aquatics such as pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum), water lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna), and quillwort (Isoetes echinospora). Oligotrophic ponds are too shallow to remain thermally stratified throughout the summer; they often freeze and become inversely stratified in the winter (coldest water at the surface), therefore they are winter-stratified monomictic ponds. Additional characteristic features of an oligotrophic pond include the following: blue or green water with high transparency (Secchi disk depths of 4 to 8 m); water low in plant nutrients (especially low in nitrogen, also low in calcium); low primary productivity (inorganic carbon fixed = 7 to 25 g/m2/yr). Alkalinity is typically low (less than 12.5 mg/l calcium carbonate).
  • Summer-stratified monomictic lake (guide)
    Oligotrophic pond: The aquatic community of a small, shallow, nutrient-poor pond. The water is very clear, and the bottom is usually sandy or rocky. Aquatic vegetation is typically sparse, and species diversity is low. Characteristic species are rosette-leaved aquatics such as pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum), water lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna), and quillwort (Isoetes echinospora). Oligotrophic ponds are too shallow to remain thermally stratified throughout the summer; they often freeze and become inversely stratified in the winter (coldest water at the surface), therefore they are winter-stratified monomictic ponds. Additional characteristic features of an oligotrophic pond include the following: blue or green water with high transparency (Secchi disk depths of 4 to 8 m); water low in plant nutrients (especially low in nitrogen, also low in calcium); low primary productivity (inorganic carbon fixed = 7 to 25 g/m2/yr). Alkalinity is typically low (less than 12.5 mg/l calcium carbonate). Summer-stratified monomictic lakes are so deep (or large) that they have only one period of mixing or turnover each year (monomictic), and one period of stratification. These lakes generally do not freeze over in winter (except in unusually cold years), or form only a thin or sporadic ice cover during the coldest parts of midwinter, so the water circulates and is isothermal during the winter (similar temperature though the water column). These lakes are typically thermally stratified only in the summer (warmest water at the surface); they are oligotrophic to mesotrophic and alkaline. Characteristic aquatic macrophytes include pondweeds (Potamogeton gramineus, P. richardsonii, P. pectinatus), horned pondweed (Zannichellia palustris), naiad (Najas flexilis), waterweed (Elodea canadensis), tapegrass or wild celery (Vallisneria americana), and coontail (Ceratophyllum demersum).
  • Winter-stratified monomictic lake (guide)
    Winter-stratified monomictic lakes have only one period of mixing each year because they are very shallow in relation to its size and is completely exposed to winds. These lakes continue to circulate throughout the summer and typically never become thermally stratified in that season. They are only stratified in the winter when they freeze over and become inversely stratified (coldest water at the surface). They are eutrophic to mesotrophic. Littoral, and epilimnion species assemblages predominate. Pelagic species assemblages are well developed. Vascular plants are typically diverse. Characteristic aquatic macrophytes include water stargrass (Heteranthera dubia), coontail (Ceratophyllum demersum), waterweed (Elodea spp.), naiad (Najas flexilis), tapegrass (Vallisneria americana), and pondweeds (Potamogeton perfoliatus, P. pectinatus, P. pusillus, P. richardsonii, P. nodosus, P. zosteriformis). The macroalgae Chara may be abundant. Oligotrophic pond: The aquatic community of a small, shallow, nutrient-poor pond. The water is very clear, and the bottom is usually sandy or rocky. Aquatic vegetation is typically sparse, and species diversity is low. Characteristic species are rosette-leaved aquatics such as pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum), water lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna), and quillwort (Isoetes echinospora). Oligotrophic ponds are too shallow to remain thermally stratified throughout the summer; they often freeze and become inversely stratified in the winter (coldest water at the surface), therefore they are winter-stratified monomictic ponds. Additional characteristic features of an oligotrophic pond include the following: blue or green water with high transparency (Secchi disk depths of 4 to 8 m); water low in plant nutrients (especially low in nitrogen, also low in calcium); low primary productivity (inorganic carbon fixed = 7 to 25 g/m2/yr). Alkalinity is typically low (less than 12.5 mg/l calcium carbonate).

Vegetation

Nonvascular plants
8%
Emergent aquatics
10%
Submerged aquatics
20%

Percent cover

This figure helps visualize the structure and "look" or "feel" of a typical Oligotrophic Pond. Each bar represents the amount of "coverage" for all the species growing at that height. Because layers overlap (shrubs may grow under trees, for example), the shaded regions can add up to more than 100%.

Additional Resources

References

Edinger, G. J., D. J. Evans, S. Gebauer, T. G. Howard, D. M. Hunt, and A. M. Olivero (editors). 2014. Ecological Communities of New York State. Second Edition. A revised and expanded edition of Carol Reschke’s Ecological Communities of New York State. New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY. https://www.nynhp.org/ecological-communities/

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2021. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.

Nichols, W. F. 2015. Natural Freshwater Lakes and Ponds in New Hampshire: Draft Classification. NH Natural Heritage Bureau, Concord, NH.

Olivero-Sheldon, A. and M.G. Anderson. 2016. Northeast Lake and Pond Classification. The Nature Conservancy, Eastern Conservation Science, Eastern Regional Office. Boston, MA.

Roberts, D.A., R. Singer, and C.W. Boylen. 1985. The submerged macrophyte communities of Adirondack Lakes (New York, U.S.A) of varying degrees of acidity. Aquat. Bot. 21:219-235.

Links

About This Guide

This guide was authored by: Gregory J. Edinger

Information for this guide was last updated on: May 18, 2021

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2021. Online Conservation Guide for Oligotrophic pond. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/oligotrophic-pond/. Accessed June 15, 2021.

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