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Are Zebra Mussels Harmful?

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Oct 04, 2018

Eurasian Milfoil & Zebra Mussels_Seneca Lakes NY_Kevin S_08.16 (2)_c-825016-edited

Written by Industry Expert Bob Schindler, Aquatic Biologist

Ecological impacts, habitat distinctions, and sustainable management options for Zebra and Quagga mussels in freshwater environments

Widespread occurrences of both Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and Quagga mussels (D. rostriformis bugensis) have been well documented since their initial confirmation within the Great Lakes during 1986 and 1991, respectively. These two species of invasive aquatic shellfish have been a focus of research and public education as their infestations have rapidly expanded to include a major portion of the Northeastern United States, along with localized infestations now confirmed west of the Rockies. While many of the significant ecological impacts are mutually shared between both species of mussel, there are key morphological and potential habitat distinctions that can aid in identifying the threat level of introduction, especially within small lake and pond environments.

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Topics: Nature's Creatures, Invasive Species

Mischievous Mammals: Are Muskrats, Beavers & Otters Harmful to Ponds?

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Sep 10, 2018

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Written by Industry Expert Gavin Ferris, Ecologist

As an ecologist, I field questions on topics ranging from the lifespan of a tadpole to the best way to defend koi against the ravages of a great blue heron. Of all the animals I am asked about, however, three mammals probably produce the most concern and curiosity: the muskrat, the beaver, and the otter.

Each of these aquatic animals plays a unique role in the environment, fulfilling a niche that contributes to its aquatic ecosystem, and all three animals are frequently found together, thanks largely to the services provided by the beaver. Beavers are perhaps the world’s first engineers, modifying their environment to suit their needs. Relying on deep water for safety, beavers have an innate drive to dam up moving water. When they see a stream, they want it to be

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Topics: Nature's Creatures, Nuisance Wildlife Control

Invasive Species Highlight: Apple Snails

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Jun 07, 2018

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Written by Industry Expert Todd Karg, Fisheries & Wildlife Scientist

As global travel and transport become increasingly accessible, the risk of plant, animal, insect and mollusk relocation becomes greater. This is a serious problem. When a species native to one region is introduced to another, it is considered invasive. Invasive species have few or no natural predators and often destroy entire ecosystems by competing with native species, outgrowing their habitat and decreasing the biodiversity of surrounding life. Take the state of Florida, for instance. The delicate wetlands and aquatic ecosystems in the region are known for their unique diversity. However, increased tourism and shipping ports, along with greater accessibility from South America, have facilitated the introduction of many non-native species to the state, like the invasive and destructive apple snail.

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Topics: Nature's Creatures, Nuisance Wildlife Control

Are Turtles Bad for Ponds?

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Dec 14, 2017

Snapping Turtle

Written by Industry Expert Cole Kabella, Wildlife & Fisheries Biologist

Think back to the last time you were on a lake or pond. Chances are, you can recall seeing a turtle—or 10. Turtles are to water as meatballs are to spaghetti. This close relationship raises a few questions. Why are they there? What is their purpose? And the biggest question: Are turtles bad for ponds? Answering these questions will provide us with a better understanding of the role turtles play in the aquatic ecosystem.

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Topics: Nature's Creatures, Fisheries Management

SOLitude Announces Cole Kabella as Volunteer of The Quarter

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Jul 27, 2017

The SOLutionThrough its corporate volunteering program, The SOLution, SOLitude Lake Management has named Wildlife and Fisheries Biologist Cole Kabella as its Volunteer of the Quarter for the second quarter of 2017. Cole has dedicated many of his free weekends to volunteering and participating in fundraising events in Bryan, TX.

Much of Cole’s efforts went towards supporting the Aggieland Humane Society. There, he helped the shelter walk the dogs, clean kennels and clear the surrounding fence line of overgrown trees.

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Topics: The SOLution, Nature's Creatures

Pond Management: Don’t Feed the Wildlife!

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Nov 15, 2016


Written by Industry Expert, Gavin Ferris, Ecologist

dont-feed-wildlife-deer-pond-e.jpgIn March 2015, residents of South Hampton, New Hampshire found six dead deer on a suburban lot. Several biologists and a game warden then investigated the site and found six more. The deer had not been shot or killed by predators, nor had they starved or died of exposure. They had been fed to death. With their stomachs and digestive systems used to their winter diet of woody browse, a sudden bounty of corn from a well-meaning human can be a shock to the system, in this case resulting in fatal enterotoxemia.

This example is dramatic, perhaps even extreme, but it illustrates the potential consequences of feeding wildlife. Certainly, not every animal that gets fed by a human will inevitably suffer a gruesome and untimely death. All the same, it usually isn’t good for the wildlife, it might not be good for the environment or its human inhabitants, and in the vicinity of a lake or pond it can be extremely bad for the water. It is perfectly natural, even admirable, for people to want to help the wildlife that they share their surroundings with. Unfortunately, there are several major consequences to feeding wildlife that make anything more than a backyard bird feeder quite unhealthy for all involved.

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Topics: Aquatics in Brief Newsletters, Nature's Creatures

Nuisance Wildlife Management: "Dammed" If You Do

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   May 05, 2015

AS SEEN IN Community Assets, Written by Industry Expert Gavin Ferris, Ecologist, SOLitude Lake Management

Community_Assets_-_March_2015_Cover_eThe North American Beaver, Castor canadensis, is a truly remarkable animal. It is common knowledge that beavers build dams, and that the water held back by these dams provides them with protection from predators. What few people know is that their instinct to build these dams approaches the point of outright neurosis. When a beaver sees or hears water flowing, he is obsessed by a desire to make it not flow.

In the wild, this little quirk is highly admirable. Beaver ponds provide vital habitat for waterfowl, amphibians, reptiles, and numerous wetland plant species. As beavers were once nearly wiped out across the continent this valuable ecosystem service became all too rare, and many species suffered. Beavers are now becoming common again, and thankfully these key wetland habitats are reappearing throughout their range.

In a stormwater pond, however, this trait becomes a major character flaw. These ponds are carefully designed to allow water to flow at a specific rate to allow the ponds to be maintained at the correct water level. Any obstruction to the pond’s outflow hinders this operation, resulting in improper stormwater discharge. If allowed to persist, the inevitable flooding can lead to property damage.

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Topics: Nature's Creatures, Nuisance Wildlife Control

Considerations for Waterfowl Management

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Jan 27, 2015

Written by Gavin Ferris, Ecologist

Resident_ducks_at_VB_office_Marc_H_03.30._eAll lakes and ponds are unique and serve various purposes, but whether your waterbody is a quarter acre stormwater retention pond or a 3,000-acre recreational lake, it provides habitat for countless species of wildlife from insects to eagles. Some, like mosquitoes, we wish to discourage. A reasonable number of appropriate waterfowl species, on the other hand, may well be the most popular visitors. Migratory species like ducks can use all of the welcoming waterbodies they can find, as many species are facing challenges from shrinking habitats throughout their ranges.

If you wish to make your property more hospitable to ducks and other waterfowl, it is important to consider which species you want to encourage, and how many individuals the surrounding area can support. If you attract too many birds to your pond, they may defoliate the surrounding area. Canada geese can be particularly destructive in large numbers, especially if they leave the pond to graze on land. The best way to discourage geese from leaving the water is to grow taller vegetation along the shoreline, with plants that also provide habitat value to desirable waterfowl. Plants like Arrow Arum, Duck Potato, and Pickerelweed all provide a food source for waterfowl while discouraging birds from foraging on land.

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Topics: Nature's Creatures

Turtles: Are They Hurting My Pond?

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Jul 08, 2014

Written by Marcus Harris, Fisheries Biologist

turtles-in-pondTurtles are one of the oldest still living groups of animals on the planet. The order Chelonii (includes all species of turtles both extant [living] and extinct) dates back to the Triassic period and the time of dinosaurs about 220 million years ago! Over that time period they’ve adapted to living in many different environments and can be completely terrestrial, semi-terrestrial, and aquatic (both marine and freshwater).

The majority of lakes and ponds have suitable habitat for turtles. So, if you have water on your property, you most likely have turtles and you may be wondering what effect they have on the ecosystem. To determine that, we need to look at what type of turtle you may encounter. The two most common types are sliders (painted and red-eared) and snappers (alligator and common).

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Topics: Nature's Creatures

Pond Management: What are those furry creatures in my pond?

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Jan 16, 2014

By J. Wesley Allen, Environmental Scientist

The Muskrat and North American Beaver have adapted to the increasing number of stormwater ponds and facilities, and can cause huge headaches if not recognized and controlled.

Muskrats are small dark brown to black aquatic rodents (16-24 in., 1.3-4.4 lbs.) that live in ponds and wetlands throughout most of the United States and Canada, feeding on the aquatic vegetation found there. Muskrats are prolific breeders and can have two to three litters of up to eight young per litter every year. Muskrats were once trapped extensively for their fur, but reduction of trapping and predator numbers have allowed muskrat populations to remain strong, even with the loss of wetland habitat.

muscratbThe muskrat has moved into many stormwater ponds, wetlands, and facilities. They can seriously damage these areas by burrowing into embankments, leading to massive erosion and even pond/facility failure. They can also eat installed and beneficial wetland plants. Because they breed prolifically, the population can quickly become destructive. They are active mainly at dawn or dusk, but burrows in the embankment near the water and disappearing aquatic vegetation are indicators of muskrats. There are very few preventative measures to keep muskrats from your pond, but keeping cattail populations under control can reduce the risk. Trapping is the best method to control muskrat populations.

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Topics: Nature's Creatures, Nuisance Wildlife Control

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