West Lake

A monument to times past and a living laboratory of times present, West Lake teems with aquatic life. Originally excavated as a quarry during the park’s industrial era, the lake basin now hosts fish, frogs, turtles, and birds. A careful observer may also notice aquatic insects hidden among the lake’s plants and sediments. West Lake is a wet and wild watery habitat that invites exploration and offers opportunity for discovery.


Photo: This tough, old reptilian resident of West Lake poses for a photo opp. Red-eared sliders (Trachemys sripta elegans) can be seen basking in the sun on floating logs and along the banks in West Lake. Photo courtesy of Dr. Jon Bossley.

Aquatic Macroinvertebrates of West Lake

West Lake is home to many aquatic macroinvertebrates – small organisms without a backbone that are large enough to be seen without the use of a microscope. In any bucket of water you may scoop from the lake, lots of life can be found. Some aquatic macroinvertebrates are known to be sensitive to pollution and will not live in water tainted by chemicals. The diversity of species found in West Lake reflects the fact that West Lake is a largely unpolluted lake. Let’s take a closer look at the common types of aquatic macroinvertebrates found within the lake.

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Aquatic Plants of West Lake

Aquatic plants play a crucial role in the underwater food web in any body of water. Aquatic plants that grow entirely underwater are called submergent, while those that grow up out of the water with only their roots and bases in water are called emergent. Both categories can be found in West Lake.

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Birds of West Lake

Birds abound in and around West Lake. A variety of waterfowl including ducks and geese can be found swimming across the lake’s surface or hiding among its reeds. Woodland birds can be found flitting among the trees that surround the lake, while raptors and scavengers can be seen soaring through the sky above the lake. This page focuses on water-associated birds that you are likely to encounter during your visit to West Lake.

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