Home | Field Sites | Teacher Resources | Student Activities | Ecosystems | Program Info

Murti P.


Natural and cultural history of Piney Z/Lake Lafayette
The area of Piney Z is characterized by sands, mostly phosphates and silts. The area also contains red clay that borders the edges of the shores of the lakes. The area of Lake Lafayette mainly consists of a series of lakes all separated by dikes with the major Floridan aquifer underneath it. The Floridan aquifer system plays a huge part in the characterization of Piney Z because it is one of the few sources of groundwater that we have in Northwest Florida. The aquifer mainly consists of limestone and gravel that acts to alleviate the sources of water, filter it, and transport it across the land. Carbonate rocks within the aquifer allows it to be highly permeable. The aquifer produces water that contains minerals in it so that humans as well as nature can benefit from it. Allowing water to flow in the aquifer has been contaminated by man’s disruption in nature, such as the building of Piney Z.

The karst topography of the Piney Z area is heavily diverse. Pine trees are seen all around the region. The land has a layer of red clay on the top. Underneath that layer is the usual composition of sand, dirt, and eventually the Floridan aquifer. Limestones surround the Floridan aquifer. Piney Z flows into a sinkhole, which eventually replenished the aquifer. The lakes are populated with a variety of animal and plant life. In some areas of the lake you will even see a kind of swampy atmosphere, as green grass and other aquatic life has taken over the region. Tall grasses are also seen in some areas of the lake.

Eutrophication occurs when there is an overabundance of aquatic life in an area where there are too many nutrients present. You can see that Piney Z is currently undergoing this process because of the many aquatic plant lives that is shown surrounding the lake. One can see a variety of grasses, weeds, algae, etc. in and around the lake. This is highly dangerous to the ecosystem in the lake because the excess algae blocks off the sunlight going to the animals and plants living in the lake, allowing them to endure conditions that they cannot live in. Also, as soon as the algae die, they use up the dissolved oxygen present in the water. Therefore, animals and plants in the lake start to die quicker because they are not able to live.

The impact of man on the area in the past has been a natural approach. No one really messed with the Piney Z area until recently in 1995. Now, man has taken it and made it into an area encompassed with a series of dikes in the lake so that they can better understand the condition of the lake. This understanding comes from the discovery that Piney Z is losing all it’s nutrients and it needs to be restored so that the area can provide for the life around it. Different people wanting to know more about the area go out to Piney Z and conduct different tests to see how it is functioning within the ecosystem. In the future, environmental agencies will try to rejuvenate the lost lake so that it is made into an urban fishery so that people can really appreciate what it has contributed to nature.

Water Quality
The following are keywords in water quality parameters and how they affect the maintenance of Piney Z as an urban fishery:

  1. Temperature- Temperature is used in measuring water decency. In other words, if the temperature is to exceed a certain amount, such as 89°, we would know that the weather and other factors are affecting the way the ecosystem works around Piney Z. We measured temperature by placing a probing device that was connected to a graphing calculator in the water, that showed us what the water temperature and atmospheric temperature was at the time after a certain while.
  2. Dissolved Oxygen- Dissolved oxygen is important to not only the animal and plant life in the lake, but also the surrounding beings around. This type of gaseous oxygen is found in the lake by diffusing itself from the air. Too much of dissolved oxygen in the water may cause harm to the animal life in the lake, making them endure from “gas bubble disease”. This would affect the way Piney Z acts as an urban fishery because there might not be any fish to maintain the fishery if too much dissolved oxygen is discovered in the water system. We measured this parameter by collecting a water sample, purifying it with different chemicals, and slowly adding to the water sample until the sample was completely clear. This was conducted by using a Dissolved Oxygen Kit.
  3. ph- pH is used to see if the water contains more acidic or basic qualities. It is used to see if the water has any toxins that may be harmful to the animal and plant life. Piney Z as an urban fishery would strongly depend on whether or not the water is safe enough for not only for the fish to swim in but the people to fish and eat from. We measured ph by using the graphing calculator that told us after awhile what the level if pH was in the water.

  4. Turbidity- This is measured by a light traveling through the water and seeing how much the lake is clogged up by excess precipitants. The slower the light travels, the more the lake is filled up with the excess algae, bacteria, and so on. If there were too high of a turbidity level in Piney Z, the fish in the lake wouldn’t be able to live because they would just be trapped by the extra amounts of algae in their environment.
  5. Phosphates- Very high phosphate levels in water can be bad in maintaining water quality. Animal life in the water will take up the extra phosphates present and provide food for the fish living in it, creating an abundant amount of fish living in the lake (eutrophication). Too many fish can lead to other hazardous problems, such as the declining level of dissolved oxygen. Upholding a stable amount of phosphorous in the water of Piney Z would allow for it to be a more successful urban fishery so that there is enough animal life to go around.
  6. Nitrates- Nitrates are very useful as acting as nutrients in the water. Although they are naturally found in the water, too many nitrates placed by humans may cause the depletion of oxygen to take place and seriously hurt the fish. However, levels of nitrates that are below .5mg/l don’t hurt the fish. In maintaining Piney Z as on urban fishery, people need to make sure that the nitrate level doesn’t exceed .5mg/l so that the fish are able to live.