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taking photos of streamside plants

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2009/1/3 13:51
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Just a feeler question:

What support would a slightly less than casual photo documentation project receive by board partcipants?

The concept is this:
Similar to posting photos of fish and tied flies and different attractive pools, fisherman would take photos of streamside plants that host aquatic insects during the transition (if applicable) from subimago to imago.

The purpose is this:
To provide some body of reference for insect preferential use of streamside vegetation.

The two main reasons for this information are:
1. to better enable selection of plant species for riparian plantings;
2. to better enable a flyfisherman to anticipate insect activity in proximity to certain plant species.


There is no reference body of which I am aware that connects streamside vegetation with the uses by/needs of aquatic insects.
While there is some inconsistent information available on the aquatic food sources used by certain insects - caddis flies, mayflies, craneflies, etc. - the missing information is on the relationships of insects during their terrestrial stage.

Incidentally, for example, I noticed that moths seem to orient themselves when resting near a light to the general light-dark background patterns.

Certain bushes along a stream or river seem to attract caddisflies while others don't.
Maybe it's leaf size, maybe is branch orientation or spacing, maybe there's some chemistry relationship.

But currently throughout Pennsylvania, and every state of which I'm aware, the general practice of species selection for riparian plantings is done by owner preference (aesthetics or eventual board feet value) or available stock through supplying nurseries.

The problem I sense from current riparian buffer plantings is that it seems most nursery offerings are from the marginal sales (excess stock on hand) selections and they end up being the majority offered for planting. Some species are marginal in zone, others are marginal in suitability to flood plain habitat, while others are marginal in suitability of root structure to provide benefit.

I feel it would be of common benefit if some reference for riparian plant species selection could be linked to at least one additional consideration other than the general logic that any tree or shrub is good, because of thermal protection and soil retention.

Perhaps some progress could be made if while fishing a hatch of insects we value highly we would occasionally snap a couple shots of plants that seem most attractive to insects.

Posted on: 2009/4/12 21:32


Re: taking photos of streamside plants

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Here's one for the timing. I probably still could not point most of these plants out of a lineup.


http://www.clubs.psu.edu/up/flyfishers/psuff_hatch.htm

Posted on: 2009/4/12 21:37
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Re: taking photos of streamside plants

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I think it's a good idea, but I'm with acristkid with the plant id. Though I seem to be learning a little more each year.

JH

Posted on: 2009/4/13 14:14
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Re: taking photos of streamside plants

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You may be on to something if your observations are that certain mayflies, caddis, stoneflies, etc. prefer certain veg. during mating. I like the idea of posting photographs of identified vegetation and if not lets figure out what it is. However I have just a couple of thoughts on few things you had to say.

1) I am going out on a limb here and am going to say that in most instances, tree/shrub selection for riparian/buffer planting are almost always native vegetation, which is IMO the most the important consideration. Rarely, have I seen planting were they are non-native vegetation i.e. var. of salix (willow stakes) which were not native.

If a watershed group or TU club plans on planting a riparian area they should always do their best to identify the existing native veg along that stream. Preferably in a reference areas were the stream's riparian area is stable and native. This is an easy way to ensure that tree/shrub specie will survive. If veg identification is not their thing, I am sure if they contact PA Dept of Forestry field office they will run out and ID the veg.

2) Stream bank vegetation, IMHO, does not have a direct correlation to the macroinvertebrate community. A stable, well vegetated riparian zone provides the stream with a stable, low sediment yielding bank for the stream channel, that provides preferable habitat for aquatic species (in the long run, reducing aggradation in substrate).

3) If the stream is "dead" (little or no macroinvertebrate life), the stream may have some H2O issues, i.e. pH, preferred substrate. If this is the case there may be greater issues.

4) In general, I think preference by aquatic macroinvertebrates in a stream begins with water quality and stream structure (riffle/pool complexes).

So anyways, after spilling my thoughts, I think we should post this type of information, why not? As fisherman, we truly get the most of fishing by understanding our surroundings and the environment that our friends “the trout” live in.

Posted on: 2009/4/13 14:55
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Re: taking photos of streamside plants

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My ideas are pretty similar to Skeeters. I think when doing riparian plantings, people SHOULD identify native species growing on other sites along that stream, and plant a variety of those species. From what I've seen this is not always done.

If that were done, I think the bugs will be fine with that choice of trees and leaves to rest on. The aquatic insects are not feeding on those plants. They simply need a place to rest and molt, for a brief period, before mating.

I doubt that they have a very specific requirement for a particular tree or shrub.

Posted on: 2009/4/13 16:40


Re: taking photos of streamside plants

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Ha- I did see a First Coltsfoot near Fishing Creek last weekend.

Here's what it looks like.

http://www.all-creatures.org/picb/wfshl-coltsfoot.html

Posted on: 2009/4/13 17:35
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Re: taking photos of streamside plants

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acristickid,

I been seeing coltsfoot since mid Feb. this year. Easiest way to id a coltsfoot is its dandilion with a fuzzy stem. Old timers tell me when you see them that BWO's will be coming.

JH

Posted on: 2009/4/13 17:53
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Re: taking photos of streamside plants

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Thanks for the replies. I'll take photos and post them with plant identifications and look forward to seeing others. I can help with plant identification.

Other good sources are the local conservation district or better yet if your local Extension office has a master gardners program, similar to what has been available for years in Lebanon County. Essentially, as part of the training received, master gardners must perform public service in the nature of plant and pest identifications.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has a number of good identification references and can at least help point in the right direction.

As far as the importance of riparian plants, the gist of the little bit of information I've been able to garner over the years is that trees are important to mayflies, but no one knows exactly what height, and thus age of tree is preferred/needed by such highly valued mayflies as green drakes.

Perhaps all that is needed is a generic tree or moderate height shrub, but I suspect that's not the case, given the degree of specialization that had to occur prior to the habitat having changed so dramatically from what was the riparian zone.

Perhaps it's nothing more than coincidental that the mahogany color of a Quill Gordon spinner (imago) is pretty darn perfectly the same to my eye as the color of spent hemlock needles, and that both occur in the same vicinity. I noticed the similarity years ago on Slate Run, back prior to special regs, when I found hemlock needles (not caddis case remnants) in the stomachs of all the trout I had killed during a Quill Gordon spinner fall.
It occurred to me then that perhaps this was an example of the common survival strategy (it's evolution - modification by survival) expressed by many living things. In this case perhaps it's the Quill Gordon mimicking falling dead hemlock needles.
If there is a connection other than shading the stream, then perhaps the state's tree (Hemlock) is critical to maintaining healthy Quill Gordon egg laying populations. And now with the Hemlock threatened statewide because of Wooley Adelgid, ...
But there is no source of information documented that I can find that links these things.
I do suppose it's possible that an important reason the issue hasn't apparently been the subject of academic research is inability to easily see what's going on 20-to 80 feet above the stream.
But I also know from experience there are some subconscious keys that have been reinforced that allow many to be able to judge upon viewing a stretch of stream as to whether it's likely BWO water or whether its more likely a good stretch for sulphers, and I feel that not only pool conformation and water quality are responsible.
For example, while a number of plants will grow seemingly randomly, it is not random. Riparian event history, soil and geology, slope, precip and pre-existing plant colonization are key influences on establishment and survival of species.
For example, I was taught that the main reason we see so many sycamores along streams is because the sycamore is a colonizing species and requires bare ground in order to take hold. The eroded stream banks so prevelant in many high agricultural valleys are host to many sycamores, but that doesn't mean that originally the sycamores were the prevailing riparian species.
Other species need tough bark or need to be extremely supple and resiliant because they frequently are met with late winter/early spring high water and huge chunks of ice.
I agree taking into account pre-existing plants can give a reasonable guide to selecting buffer plantings, but again, they may not, depending on the amount of change that has occurred.

Posted on: 2009/4/13 18:37


Re: taking photos of streamside plants
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Vern,

Some of the replies are long, so I didn't thoroughly read all of what was said. I did want to add that all the restoration projects I have been involved in have stressed using native PA plants. Insects in and around streams have evolved specialized mouthparts for eating plants native to their environments. So caddis in PA would feed on leaf litter from native PA plants. And even if kudzo was in great supply, they might die of starvation if they could not find native PA leaves!

Posted on: 2009/4/13 19:52
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Re: taking photos of streamside plants

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Quote:

Padraic wrote:
Vern,

Some of the replies are long, so I didn't thoroughly read all of what was said. I did want to add that all the restoration projects I have been involved in have stressed using native PA plants. Insects in and around streams have evolved specialized mouthparts for eating plants native to their environments. So caddis in PA would feed on leaf litter from native PA plants. And even if kudzo was in great supply, they might die of starvation if they could not find native PA leaves!


I've seen a presentation from Stroud Water Research Center in SE PA (here is a link http://www.stroudcenter.org/index.htm) where they take into consideration local stream invertebrates when they are involved in stream restoration. I think there are a few of these "nitch" groups adding science to the concepts you mention. They tend to get little notice by most of us. Maybe there are some white papers around that could help.

Posted on: 2009/4/14 10:23


Re: taking photos of streamside plants

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2009/2/19 19:59
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I found a bunch of these beautiful brilliantly red wild flowers growing along Fishing Creek in Sullivan Co several years ago. I would imagine that they would at least attract various types of bees and perhaps even some beetles. I do "take time to smell the roses" along the way.

Attach file:



jpg  Fishing Creek 012.jpg (0.00 KB)
2119_49e4a8c687655.jpg X px

Posted on: 2009/4/14 11:17
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Re: taking photos of streamside plants

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Posted on: 2009/4/14 14:47


Re: taking photos of streamside plants

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Wild,

I am not positive, but after reviewing your photo I think you got yourself some Purple Burgamont. It grows in moist soils, and its range is from NY to Minn and South. It escaped from cultivation years ago and is considered native. Good find!

Not that I knew that off the top of my head but here is another good find. Newcomb's Wildflower Guide. I don't know all my flowers or all my trees so when I have a tough time, hands down this is the best wildflower ID book, It is easy to use and makes you feel like you really know your stuff :)

Posted on: 2009/4/14 15:05
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Re: taking photos of streamside plants

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2009/2/19 19:59
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Thanks. I believe that's exacty what that is. I'm always learning here on PFF. Here's another closer pic of the same flower. I just ordered the Wildflower Guide!

Attach file:



jpg  Fishing Creek 013 (Custom).jpg (0.00 KB)
2119_49e4fd5e9893a.jpg X px

Posted on: 2009/4/14 17:17
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Re: taking photos of streamside plants

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2009/4/6 22:31
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wildtrout2,

Those are Mondara (genus), aka "bee balm".

I see them in Sullivan Co. and elsewhere, too. Love 'em!

Bergamot is another name for it.

Mike

Posted on: 2009/4/14 20:25
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