Limnology

I’ve just learned of “limnology – the study of inland waters“. Similar to aquatic ecology and hyrobiology.

The photo is from an article about “Manhattan Paleolimnology“.

Part of the post speaks of how human walkways are altered by the presence of water puddles. Puddles have been more on my mind as of late since my sneakers are coming undone around the toes. One misplaced step leads to hours of potential cold and moist discomfort. As the said post mentions, a puddle map could aid one in planning a journey through an urban area laden with these temporary lakes of minuscule proportions. We could have multiple maps in order to adjust to different levels of precipitation. Maybe a digital GIS interface would be the most efficient. I’d like to document, measure, and name a few of these puddles in my neighborhood.

During their short existence, many of these water bodies must cradle life to some extent, whether it’s the larval/nymph stage of an insect or a few short sips by a passing bird. Some of these organisms, particularly the itsy-bitsy, spend either large portions or their entire lives in the puddles. Miniature watersheds determine where the water flows. A curb, rock, branch, or other local object could influence the existence of an intermittent puddle. The presence of a leaf could alter the trajectory of a tiny stream providing habitat for microbial life. The leaf’s absence could rob the colony’s chance for survival.

Erosion occurs on a smaller scale but time is the main ingredient between the following:

Thousands of local seeds transported by urban runoff.

Sand tufa formations - remains of calcium carbonate deposits fed from ancient freshwater springs. The surrounding sand has since eroded.

Our transient lives are not unlike the spawn of the brief puddles. Let us not take life-giving puddles of any size for granted.

-Topher

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