Streams offer a variety of habitats. Riffles are shallow areas where water flows fast. Many riffles have gravel bottoms of fist-size rocks that create a turbulence that mixes air into the water. Food is carried and distributed by the rushing water. If the water quality is good, riffles are home to mayfly larvae, crayfish and small fish such as darters. The riffle’s shallow, rocky bottom can also protect animals from larger predators.
Stream pools are deeper and darker than riffles, and have relatively quiet water. Good pool habitats provide cover–sometimes ledge rocks or a tree rootwad that offers a good hiding place. Bass and catfish prefer pool habitats.
A mid-water stream channel is also a distinct habitat. Gar have few enemies, and they lounge around here in the open sunlight with few worries except where their next meal will come from.
A stream provides homes for large or small inhabitants in nearly every part of its channel. Stable channels, good water quality and tree-lined banks contribute to good stream habitats.
Aquifers, loess, and necktonic… what do they mean? Here’s a shortlist of some watershed words to know.
Find more watershed terms with this guide from the MDC.