Springtree Lake: A Study in Limnology

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A six week study between February 6, 1998 through March 29, 1998 was undertaken to evaluate how various parameters typically measured and analyzed by limnologists can affect a freshwater lake's water quality and its ability to provide a suitable habitat for a diverse species of aquatic plants and animals. The lake selected for this study was Springtree Lake located in the northwestern part of Jacksonville, Florida. The five parameters that were measured included air and water temperatures, turbidity or water clarity, salinity, pH, and dissolved oxygen. The results of this research and testing indicated that these parameters were within acceptable ranges for a freshwater lake. Springtree Lake has been an aquatic ecosystem that is capable of sustaining a habitat for various aquatic macrophytes, phytoplankton, zooplankton, and larger animals including fish and waterfowl. The results presented in the tables and accompanying graphs and figures further illustrated that Springtree Lake provided an environment with a stable water quality that not only sustained many animal and plant species which were metabolically productive, but also enabled area residents to use it for their recreation, aesthetic purposes, and enjoyment.


Definitions and Concepts

Limnology is the field of science concerned with the study of freshwater ecosystems, which include wetlands, such as marshes, ponds, and lakes, the transitional zones between land and water. Although in the literature, there has been a trend to understand, describe, and effectively manage these aquatic environments, there is seemingly no correct, indisputable, ecologically sound definition for lakes because of their individual needs and diversity (Noss, R., LaRoe, III, T., & Scott, J. M., 1995, p. 4). Like successors, Forel in 1892 defined a lake as an inland depression with standing water that serves as a basin and lacks continuity with the sea (as cited in Welch, 1952, p. 15). In fact, the distinction between ponds and lakes is arbitrary resulting in other classifications of lakes even as sources of water that "cannot be waded across without getting wet" (Burgis and Morris, 1987, p. 2). Florida has approximately 7,800 freshwater lakes that cover 16% of its surface, most of which are both less than 6.5 hectares and 5 meters deep (Frease, n.d., p. 2). The closest geographic area with this abundance is along the Canadian border stretching from Minnesota to Maine.

Lakes form by a variety of natural or artificial means. For instance, natural lakes, such as Florida's Lake Okeechobee, formed by tectonic plate shifts in the earth's crust in which the downward pressure of the Pleistocene deposits, overburdened with sand, clay beds, and acid water from dissolving limestone, led to underground collapse causing the " sinkhole" to fill with water. Artificial or "man-made" lakes, such as Springtree Lake, this project's research source, often were formed for a variety of human purposes including impoundment reasons, freshwater or mineral resources, stormwater treatment areas, aesthetics, and recreational uses. Through stocking of the lake with specific fish and time, artificial lakes like Springtree can develop similarities in aquatic organisms comparable to their natural counterparts. The normal bonds of these lakes typically have shifted to produce a water environment with limited biota and resources. Approximately .002% of the earth's 1.3 X 1021 liters of water are available for freshwater sources (Frease, p. 2). These dynamic systems are sensitive to factors including land use and climate. Lakes also undergo ecological succession. Little organic materials, a poorly developed littoral zone, higher and vertically uniform dissolved oxygen levels, acceptable turbidity levels, adequate phosphorus and nitrogen levels, and less abundance but greater diversity of species of plants and animals characterize early oligotrophic stages. In time, a lake can become eutrophic which is...
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