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

Riverine Lake - Pond

State Rank: SU     Global Rank: GNR   what are these ranks?


General natural community overview

Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for Riverine Lake - Pond in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database.

Riverine lakes occur naturally within the floodplains of large rivers. They are periodically connected to rivers and streams, therefore behave as drainage systems when water levels are high and have direct connections to flowing waters and like lakes when water levels are low, and they are temporarily isolated. Oxbow lakes are a special type of floodplain lake that form when a wide meander from the main stem of a river is cut off, creating a free-standing body of water. Common plants include American white water-lily (Nymphaea odorata), bull-head pond-lily (Nuphar variegata), and various pondweeds (Potamogeton spp.) species. The more pristine oxbows harbor bladderworts (Utricularia spp.) and water star-grass (Heteranthera dubia). Highly eutrophic systems can become choked with free-floating plants like duckweeds (Lemna spp.), water-meal (Wolffia spp.), and filamentous algae. While bluegill and largemouth bass are common associates at most riverine lakes and ponds, some fish associates reflect the amount of groundwater input. Grass pickerel is associated with significant groundwater input, whereas central mudminnow and golden shiner are associated with lakes that have little groundwater influence.

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 Riverine Lake - Pond 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 Minute Moss BeetleOchthebius lineatus2
A Minute Moss BeetleHydraena angulicollis2
A Predaceous Diving BeetleColymbetes exaratus2
A Predaceous Diving BeetleIlybius angustior2
A Predaceous Diving BeetleRhantus sericans2
A Predaceous Diving BeetleMatus ovatus2
A Predaceous Diving BeetleLiodessus obscurellus2
A Predaceous Diving BeetleNeoporus hybridus2
A Predaceous Diving BeetleAgabus leptapsis2
A Water Scavenger BeetleAgabetes acuductus2

Yellow-crowned Night-HeronNyctanassa violacea3
Black TernChlidonias niger2
Great EgretArdea alba2
Red-shouldered HawkButeo lineatus2
Black-crowned Night-HeronNycticorax nycticorax1
Black-necked StiltHimantopus mexicanus1
Common GoldeneyeBucephala clangula1
Common TernSterna hirundo1
Forster's TernSterna forsteri1
Purple MartinProgne subis1

Dragonflies and damselfliesScore
Lake EmeraldSomatochlora cingulata3
Mottled DarnerAeshna clepsydra3
Pronghorn ClubtailGomphus graslinellus3
Slaty SkimmerLibellula incesta3
Spatterdock DarnerRhionaeschna mutata3
Unicorn ClubtailArigomphus villosipes3
Double-striped BluetEnallagma basidens2
Lilypad ForktailIschnura kellicotti2
Spangled SkimmerLibellula cyanea2
Painted SkimmerLibellula semifasciata1
Smoky RubyspotHetaerina titia1

Lake SturgeonAcipenser fulvescens3
Starhead TopminnowFundulus dispar3
Lake ChubsuckerErimyzon sucetta2
Mud DarterEtheostoma asprigene1
Redfin ShinerLythrurus umbratilis1

Leafhoppers and true bugsScore
A Water StriderNeogerris hesione2

Big Brown BatEptesicus fuscus3
Little Brown BatMyotis lucifugus3
Northern Long-eared BatMyotis septentrionalis2
Silver-haired BatLasionycteris noctivagans2
Tricolored BatPerimyotis subflavus1
Water ShrewSorex palustris1

Blanding's TurtleEmydoidea blandingii3
Eastern RibbonsnakeThamnophis sauritus3
Wood TurtleGlyptemys insculpta2
Butler's GartersnakeThamnophis butleri1
Plains GartersnakeThamnophis radix1
Western RibbonsnakeThamnophis proximus1

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 heterophylla Large Water-starwort 2


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

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

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


Riverine Lake - Pond Photos

Riverine Lake - Pond Photo

Extensive bottomland hardwood forests, marshes, running sloughs, scattered ponds in the floodplain of the lower Black River.

Photo by  staff.

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: Tuesday, August 30, 2022