Part 1: Good eats from the natural shoreline menu

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Did you know that shorelines, those areas along streams, rivers, lakes and ponds where water meets land, is where all the action happens? This meeting place of the aquatic and terrestrial realms is key to the survival of species that frequent both worlds. And it all starts with plants. A diversity of native plants makes an appetizing menu for many vegetarian insects that feed on plant tissue, sap and nectar. Those plant loving bugs are in turn delectable food items for carnivorous predatory insects. The crowds of bug patrons of the shoreline resto, both above and below water, are potential meals for frogs, snakes, birds, and fish which seek out shallow waters. All this activity only makes for better dining experiences for everyone involved and it’s the plant diversity which drives this natural gastronomy. That’s especially true of vibrant shorelines boasting a variety of native plant species, just like a well stocked produce isle. A stream with nothing but lawn mowed right to its edge offers little in comparison, just like a shop with empty shelves.

Native plants, compared to exotic ones brought over from other continents, are the preferred staple foods of local wildlife. This is because local fauna has evolved together with local flora. Native animals may avoid exotic plants because they may find they taste bad, they are poisonous or they don’t provide proper nutrition. It’s similar to people preferring foods which are familiar to them, ones that they grew up with, versus strange tasting exotic dishes they turn their noses up at.

This is the first of a 3 part blog about the value and importance of natural shorelines. Interested in creating a natural shoreline on your property? You may be eligible for up to $1,500 in grants! Find out more about our Healthy Shorelines – Clean Water Stewardship Program at “http://www.ltc.on.ca/stewardship/hscwsp/.

Written by: Ewa Bednarczuk, Ecology & Stewardship Specialist with Lower Trent Conservation

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