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Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's natural communities, contact:
Ryan O'Connor
Natural Heritage Inventory Ecologist

Spring Pond, Lake--Spring


General natural community overview

The primary source for these waterbodies is groundwater from both inside and outside the immediate surface drainage area. The groundwater is often mineral rich, resulting in above neutral pH and alkalinity greater than 50 ppm. Spring ponds are usually less than 10 acres, and have no inlet, but may have an outlet, occasionally joining with spring runs to feed into larger spring lakes. Spring lakes are often greater than 10 acres, have no inlet, but typically do have an outlet, often forming the headwaters of streams particularly in northern Wisconsin. Due to their smaller size, spring ponds are cooler than spring lakes. The submerged community of both spring ponds and spring lakes is often dominated by muskgrasses (Chara spp.), which thrive in alkaline water. Coon-tail (Ceratophyllum demersum), naiads (Najas spp.), common waterweed (Elodea canadensis), and wild celery (Vallisneria americana) are also common. The non-native invasive watercress (Nasturtium officinalis) is often found growing in shallower areas and may completely cover the water's surface. These lake types are often surrounded by white cedar dominated northern wet-mesic forests. Fish species associated with spring ponds include brook trout, creek chub, common shiner, white sucker, and mottled sculpin.

Rare animals

Species of Greatest Conservation Need

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

The following Species of Greatest Conservation Need are listed according to their level of association with the natural community type, based on the findings in Wisconsin's 2015 Wildlife Action Plan.

Scores: 3 = high association, 2 = moderate association, and 1 = low association. See the key to association scores for complete definitions.

Blanchard's Cricket FrogAcris blanchardi3
Mink FrogLithobates septentrionalis3
Pickerel FrogLithobates palustris2

A Predaceous Diving BeetleAgabus aeruginosus3
A Predaceous Diving BeetleThermonectus basilaris2
A Predaceous Diving BeetleIlybius angustior2
A Water Scavenger BeetleHelophorus orchymonti2
A Water Scavenger BeetleAgabetes acuductus2

Black TernChlidonias niger2
Common TernSterna hirundo1
Forster's TernSterna forsteri1

Dragonflies and damselfliesScore
Double-striped BluetEnallagma basidens3
Lake EmeraldSomatochlora cingulata3
Mottled DarnerAeshna clepsydra3
Pronghorn ClubtailGomphus graslinellus3
Spatterdock DarnerRhionaeschna mutata3
Spangled SkimmerLibellula cyanea2
Lilypad ForktailIschnura kellicotti1
Slaty SkimmerLibellula incesta1
Subarctic DarnerAeshna subarctica1
Unicorn ClubtailArigomphus villosipes1

Redfin ShinerLythrurus umbratilis1

A Non-biting MidgePseudodiamesa pertinax2

Big Brown BatEptesicus fuscus3
Little Brown BatMyotis lucifugus3
Northern Long-eared BatMyotis septentrionalis2
Silver-haired BatLasionycteris noctivagans2
Water ShrewSorex palustris2
Eastern PipistrellePerimyotis subflavus1

Blanding's TurtleEmydoidea blandingii3
Eastern RibbonsnakeThamnophis sauritus3
Plains GartersnakeThamnophis radix2
QueensnakeRegina septemvittata2
Butler's GartersnakeThamnophis butleri1
Western RibbonsnakeThamnophis proximus1
Wood TurtleGlyptemys insculpta1

Please see Section 2. Approach and Methods of the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Rare plants

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

Scores: 3 = "significantly associated," 2 = "moderately associated," and 1 = "minimally associated."
Scientific Name Common Name Score
Callitriche hermaphroditica Autumnal Water-starwort 2
Eleocharis robbinsii Robbins' Spike-rush 1


The following Ecological Landscapes have the best opportunities to manage for , based on the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin Handbook.

Major (3 on map)
A major opportunity for sustaining the natural community in the Ecological Landscape exists, either because many significant occurrences of the natural community have been recorded in the landscape or major restoration activities are likely to be successful maintaining the community's composition, structure, and ecological function over a longer period of time.

Important (2 on map)
Although the natural community does not occur extensively or commonly in the Ecological Landscape, one to several occurrences do occur and are important in sustaining the community in the state. In some cases, important opportunities may exist because the natural community may be restricted to just one or a few Ecological Landscapes within the state and there may be a lack of opportunities elsewhere.

Present (1 on map)
The natural community occurs in the Ecological Landscape, but better management opportunities appear to exist in other parts of the state.


Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

What are conservation actions?

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for natural communities




This spring-fed pond supports an assemblage of coldwater organisms. The outlet stream feeds the Upper St Croix River.

Photo by Eric Epstein.


Spring ponds, springs, and seepages supply the Upper Brule River with clean, cold, highly oxygenated water, embedded in an extensive N white cedar swamp.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Note: photos are provided to illustrate various examples of natural community types. A single photograph cannot represent the range of variability inherent in a given community type. Some of these photos explicitly illustrate unusual and distinctive community variants. The community photo galleries are a work in progress that we will expand and improve in the future.

Last revised: Wednesday, June 16, 2021