Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Favorite Habitat

Headwater Stream, May 2, Scioto County, Ohio

Headwater streams- rivulets of water so small that they don't often appear on maps, are incredible habitats.  Their clear, cool water harbors a fascinating community of animals. Aquatic invertebrates, a diverse array of minnows, crayfish, water striders, larval salamanders, and tons of other biological organisms call these systems home.  A stream very much like the one pictured above is where I developed my love of natural history.  I was catching minnows with a toy butterfly net while my dad watched from around age six or so.  I gradually moved up to bigger minnows, and then added crayfish and salamanders to my quarry.  If you live near a headwater stream, explore it.  Find out what macroinvertebrates live amidst the rocks- and catch the fish and salamanders that depend upond the clear, cold, water.  They're one of my favorite habitats- and I think you'll enjoy exploring them too.



  1. Much like Tom, I grew up exploring Edward's Run, tributary to Scioto Brush Creek when I was very small. Later my horizons grew to encompass the mainstem of SBC. This "play time" had such an effect on me that I grew up to help found the Friends of Scioto Brush Creek, Inc. See
    We should be encouraging more children to play in creeks, and KEEP those streams clean enough to play IN.
    Martin McAllister

  2. Yes, I had a stream to play in when I was a kid. Until my friend and I decided to strain the mud and see what lived down there and found dragonfly nymphs with big biting jaws and thus became scared to set foot in that stream again. But we did keep exploring its shores and waded carefully where we could walk on rocks.

  3. Unfortunately our local creek--the Abita Creek, where we go walking in the Flatwoods--is frequented by cottonmouths. As such, we'll continue to enjoy it from the bridge, thanks. ;) (I do wish we could go through it, though. Explore it more fully.)

  4. I spent 5 yrs in my 20s working with freshwater macroinvertebrates, nearly always in big waters. First order streams, however, were where I got my "neat bugs" fix. And a big plus was that's where the snakes were!