Diverse Plant & Animal Communities Support a Healthy Watershed
Our natural world exists in community. Even in the smallest ecosystem, plant and animal communities are interdependent and need each other for survival. When habitat is altered or destroyed, the plants and animals associated with that habitat are forced to adapt, move to a new habitat, or die off.
In watersheds, plant and animal populations are intrinsically bound together. Maintaining a well-functioning, healthy watershed is all about protecting and maintaining a balance between plant and animal communities. Many problems within watersheds can be traced to the introduction of invasive species of plants and animals (species not native to our area). These introduced species may have no natural checks to maintain balance in their populations, and can out-compete the native species.
Another issue that local creeks suffer from is excessive algae growth, due to phosphorus- and nitrogen-rich runoff from lawns. When the algae dies, the water’s oxygen is depleted in the decaying process, and this lack of oxygen causes many fish and water creatures to struggle and die, leaving a “dead zone” that no longer supports a healthy and balanced plant and animal community.
Hazardous chemicals, sediment, and heat can all harm the plants and animals that make the creek their home. Toxins and hazardous materials, such as heavy metals, hydrocarbons, and pesticides, are threats to the region's waters, along with thermal pollution that can elevate water temperatures and decrease dissolved oxygen. Sediment washed into the creek can blanket the creekbed with fine particles and destroy pebbly habitat for fish and other aquatic life, as well as block sunlight from reaching aquatic plants.
Virginia Spring Beauty
What can you do to help? Report a sighting on iNaturalist!
Report sightings of local animals and plants on iNaturalist.org or using the iNaturalist app. You can also check out other report in the watershed on the Cabin John Creek Watershed Place Page on the iNaturalist website, and stay current by subscribing to Place Page updates. Even if you don't subscribe, your posted sightings in the watershed will be added to the CJCW Place Page.
FoCJC has created a Cabin John Creek Watershed Place Page on a the iNaturalist website for you to post your sightings of local animals and plants and to check out other CJC sightings. iNaturalist helps you identify the flora and fauna around you, as well as connecting you with a community of over 400,000 scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature. What's more, by recording and sharing your observations using your smartphone, you'll create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature.
With iNaturalist, you can explore what others are seeing in your watershed or on the other side of the world. You can use this app as a sort of mobile field notebook to help you make observations and identifications or keep track of your life list. By recording the animals and plants you see as you hike around the creek, take a walk around your neighborhood, visit a Cabin John Park, or in your own backyard, you will be supporting FoCJC efforts to protect and promote the health of the Cabin John Creek watershed.
iNaturalist comes to us from the California Academy of Sciences, and is available as an app for your iPhone or Android device. For more info, check out www.iNaturalist.org or email FoCJC Contact Mark Frey (firstname.lastname@example.org).