Ponds are freshwater bodies of water smaller and shallower than lakes. Like many aquatic environments, they are rich in life--and varied forms of adaptation.
Plants in freshwater ecosystems have exploited numerous niches. There are floating forms at the surface, emergent forms rooted underwater but flowering above it and fully submerged plants anchored or suspended.
Animals, too, have adapted to the pond's multiple environments. Spiders and insects rove the surface film of water, while fish segregate themselves based on size and disposition at differing depths.
Amphibians thrive in pond environments. Frogs and some salamanders lay eggs underwater and develop as aquatic larvae before metamorphosing into terrestrial or partly terrestrial adults.
American alligators, found throughout the southeastern U.S., are the largest reptiles in North American ponds. They will often excavate wallows that become pools--called "alligator holes"--supporting a thriving ecological community lorded over by an occasionally predatory host.
Microscopic plants and animals--which include algae, bacteria and invertebrates--are part of the foundation of the pond food web, supporting insects and the young of fish and amphibians.
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