Flora and Fauna
Micro Aquatic Predators
The micro-worlds of the marshland
In lake and marsh ecosystems primary productivity is very high partly due to the overlapping of two parallel worlds that are perfectly integrated with each other: the macrocosm and the microcosm.
The first can be easily perceived by everyone and consists of all the plants and animals that are clearly visible (and also those that are not quite so visible simply because they are hidden by water or vegetation, as is the case with fish or small birds that live among the reeds). The second, however, is represented by plant and animal organisms that escape indirect observation, due to the fact that they are small and due to their concentration in water and sediment.
Algae and planktonic animals, aquatic insects, shellfish, molluscs and other invertebrates form the basis of a large number of food chains, which also include representatives of the five classes of vertebrates, particularly birds, fish and amphibians.
This secret marsh world reproduces in scale the same dynamics of struggle for survival that we are all familiar with, but with a much higher number of protagonists, because this is where the vast majority of biological diversity is concentrated.
No one is safe
The larval stage of the life of many animals takes place in water: this is the rule for almost all aquatic invertebrates, amphibians and, of course, fish. It is no wonder, then, that under the surface of the water there are numerous predators with the most diverse appearances (sometimes sinister, sometimes deceptively reassuring), which have developed a myriad of adaptations and strategies: from the air bubbles of water spiders, to the siphons and raptorial legs of Nepidae (or Water Scorpion) and the Ranatra; from the “mask” of dragonfly larvae (a special extensible jaw that suddenly grabs its prey), to the long swimming legs that allow the dytiscus, water boatman and backswimmer to chase their prey.