Special Habitat Areas
Because of the nature of the vegetation and the ecosystem processes that occur in them, ponds require a great deal of sunlight. Since most of the Preserve is forested, the number of sites that meet the requirements for a pond are few. Fortunately, however, Mother Nature cleared an ideal spot for a new pond when a 1983 tornado ripped through the part of the property that contained the Woods Edge Walk. After the storm removed most of the tree cover, it had been managed as an open meadow ever since. After looking at all of our options, it became obvious that the Woods Edge Walk location was ideal.
We soon began working with hydro geologists and engineers at Princeton Hydro and the designers at Paul W. Steinbeiser to create an aesthetically pleasing pond that met our educational goals and respected the integrity of the site. The stonework used for the surrounding patio and the pond springhouse is local stone—both homages to the area’s geology and the Revolutionary War-era buildings that still stand nearby. Whenever rainfall is not sufficient, water is delivered to the pump by an on-site well. The water is also repeatedly recycled by a series of underground pumps through both the pond and filters in the springhouse, which filter out unwanted bacteria, nitrates and phosphates—which helps prevent algae from coating the pond.
As a result, since its completion in January 2013, the pond has become a thriving example of a freshwater pond. The native plants in and around the pond include:
In the Pond:
American lotus (Nelumbo lutea)
Pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata)
Spatterdock (Nuphar lutea)
White water lily (Nymphaea sp.)
Short-toothed mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum)
Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
Wild senna (Senna hebacarpa)
American plum (Prunus americana)
Black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)
Button bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Hop hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)
Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
Ladies Tresses (Spiranthes cernua)
In nature, high quality habitat quickly attracts all kinds of wildlife, and that certainly has been true of the new pond. Once its plant life and aquatic invertebrates began to flourish, all sorts of frogs and turtles migrated to it. Early in the year, spring peepers gather and sing, and tadpoles by the hundreds can be seen in the water. Green frogs, wood frogs and American toads now call the pond and its edges home. Intentionally laid rocks on the bottom of the pond form a perfect refuge for frogs to survive their winter torpor, and there is plenty of vegetation and nooks in which developing tadpoles can hide from hungry herons.
Meanwhile, turtles looking to sun themselves have been attracted to an intentionally half-submerged log and some rocks that break the pond’s surface. And in the water itself, minnows simultaneously feed themselves and help keep the water clean.
During the summer, dragonflies also flit across the pond surface and butterflies float about the flowering meadow.