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River Facts Friday, February 2023

Our watershed hosts some of the most iconic flora and fauna to be found in North America, and these species are integral parts of our dynamic ecosystem. Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), gray and red foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus and Vulpes Vulpes), black bear (Ursus americanus), American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), and fallfish (Semotilus corporalis) can all be found right here in our watershed. The interplay between flora, fauna, and landscape is called ecosystem dynamics, which fluctuate and change when new elements are added, such as humans. And while change is normal and expected, too much change in a short amount of time can have negative effects on the entire system. Each species and abiotic element in an ecosystem is integrally linked to others, sometimes in ways that we wouldn’t immediately guess or foresee. Think of a spider web, when you dislodge or pull on one strand, something happens on the other side of the web. The study of these changes and relationships is complex and is a unique discipline within environmental science. The image below is just one example of a mapped ecosystem. As ecosystem dynamics continue to develop as an area of study and our understanding of connection deepens, these models become more and more interconnected. So as we work to protect and conserve the North Fork, our efforts also have a positive impact on all our local flora and fauna, including us!

Image from Agnetta, Davide & Badalamenti, Fabio & Colloca, Francesco & D’Anna, Giovanni & Di Lorenzo, Manfredi & Fiorentino, Fabio & Garofalo, Germana & Gristina, M. & Labanchi, Lucio & Patti, Bernardo & Pipitone, Carlo & Solidoro, Cosimo & Libralato, Simone. (2019). Benthic-pelagic coupling mediates interactions in Mediterranean mixed fisheries: An ecosystem modeling approach. PLOS ONE. 14. e0210659. 10.1371/journal.pone.0210659. 

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