Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems: Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area and Splitrock Reservoir
University of Phoenix (Online Campus)
Just this week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced the permanent preserve of 1,500 watershed acres in Morris County. Although I moved not 2 weeks ago I lived right near the Splitrock Reservoir for the past 5 years. This newly acquired preserved land will now serve as a corridor between the Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management area, 2 other parks in Morris County, NJ and the Splitrock Reservoir. The Wildcat Wildlife Management Area is a huge forest ecosystem that also includes an abandoned mine at its southern most end – now home to over 26,000 Indiana bats. It currently spans over more than 3,500 acres. Splitrock Reservoir encompasses 625 acres of forest as well as a vast water system made up of several large lakes with interconnected islands – holding over 3 billion gallons of water. There is also a man-made dam in the southwest end of the reservoir.
There is a very diverse range of species in both of the ecosystems above; and since most of the species rely on other species in the surrounding ecosystems, it almost acts as one. Our text raises a good question, “Are ecosystems tightly connected systems of closely coevolved species, or are they a loose assemblage of species that happen to share similar habitat needs and end up interacting with one another?” (Gibbs & Hunter, 2007). If you reread that statement, both thoughts start to merge – all ecosystems are connected and all species essentially rely on one another for their own survival and the survival of the ecosystem. Having intrinsic value means something is good in and of itself; having instrumental value means that individual item is good when combined or paired with something else.
One notable species in the Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area would be the endangered Indiana bat, living in the abandoned Hibernia Mine on the preserve. These bats keep the insect populations under control in and around the reservoir – both being instrumental to the other. Other species in the Wildcat Ridge area include bobcat, white-tailed deer, black bear and many raptor species like the red-shouldered hawk. The management area is also packed with over 40 species of trees; including many species of maple and oak. One notable species is a conifer known as the Hemlock tree. The Hemlock has a high intrinsic value in that seed dispersal is managed by the tree dropping cones full of spores. Typically trees rely on small animals or bird, even wind and water to disperse the seed quickly enough so it can germinate where it eventually lands. Many seeds typically die during this process; the Hemlock cones protect the spores and allow the seeds more time to germinate.
The Splitrock Reservoir supports many species of waterfowl, hawks, the bald eagle and the “reservoir itself boasts an excellent fishery for smallmouth and largemouth bass, chain pickerel and black crappie” (NJDEP, 2015). The vegetation in the terrestrial areas of the reservoir includes the Triphora trianthophora, or ‘Three Birds Orchid’; a beautiful flowering plant that blooms simultaneously with the other Three Bird Orchids in