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A Glance at Cheney Lake Reservoir Ecosystem

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A glance at Cheney Lake Reservoir Ecosystem James Killion SCI/256 August 12, 2013 Mary Corrigan, Ph.D.

As any lake Cheney Lake Reservoirs ecosystems begins with the sun, for without the sun there is no life. This is true because the sun is what provides the energy that is needed for the start of a food chain. At Cheney Lake Reservoir there is no difference than any other lake. Phytoplankton is the start food chain; it is mostly made of algae. Phytoplankton needs a sufficient amount of sunlight and temperature to grow, not only does it need sunlight it also requires phosphorous and nitrogen to flourish. In order to have an ecosystem that is productive and healthy there must a proper amount of phytoplankton at all times. If there is not enough phytoplankton there will not be enough to go around, if there is too much there not be enough light to support life. Phytoplankton is considered to be a producer. Zooplanktons are considered to be the animal in the free floating particles in the water. Their perpose is to eat algae, bacteria, and sometimes other zooplankton. Zooplanktons are considered to be a primary consumer in this food chain. Next to come is known as the secondary consumer. They are made up from bottom feeding fish and invertebrates; their source of food is zooplankton. Also falling in this section of the ecosystem at Cheney Lake Reservoir is sunfish and perch because their main source of food is also zooplankton. The next step in this lakes ecosystem is tertiary consumers. This would be a large list of carnivorous animals and bigger fish depending on the area that the lake is in. At the Cheney Lake Reservoir some of the animals that would be included would be otter’s raccoons, opossums, skunks, and predatory birds such as the Red - Tailed Hawk, Owls, and perhaps a Bald Eagle. With Cheney Lake Reservoir as any other lake the next factor of the ecosystem is the decomposers, just as important as the sunlight it is made up from bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. Feeding on remains of all aquatic organisms decomposing organic matter, once this has taken place and it is back to its inorganic state it is ready to grow new plant life. Thus allowing the ecosystem complete and thrive another day (Holmgren, n.d.). Cheney Lake Reservoir is supported by the Cheney Lake watershed. The water shed drains off into the north fork of the Ninescah Fiver which in-turn runs into the lake. Not to get the two confused the watershed is an area that spans over 633,000 acres and five counties in south central Kansas. In the early 1960’s the Cheney Lake Reservoir was built it is to be a 100 year project that had several different agendas which include a wildlife area, camping, boating, fishing, flood-control, and a good water supply for Wichita Kansas (Watson, Scaborough, n.d.). As of August, 2013 the lakes surface was 9,550 acres with a maximum depth of 42 feet (Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks, n.d.). A US Geological survey that took place between 1965 and 1998 estimated that nearly 8.5 million pounds of run off of phosphorus and other nutrients from lands and streams (Watson, Scaborough, n.d.). This became an issue to the ecosystem of Cheney Lake Reservoir in the early 1990’s as it was the cause of a heavy algae bloom which created great concern to the city of Wichita’s water supply when it caused a bad taste and odor. Another concern was that of sediment build up. It was then that Reno County Conservation District took action, and formed a farmer-led group, the group came up with a plan to manage watershed pollution. The plan included a plan to reduce the phosphorous and sediment deposits by 40 to 45 percent. This could expand the lake life tremendously, with little to no cost to all involved. After a study to find the source of sediment deposits was completed it was discovered that 200 acres in the watershed were the cause of 76 percent of the sediment deposits, it was also believed that up to 35 percent of the sediment deposits could be gotten rid of simply by treating ephemeral gullies. The discovery of this could make significant changes in the way conservation measures are put into effect. Looking at the big picture, if conservation were put into effect throughout the watershed it would have quicker results improving water quality and stabilizing the ecosystem at Cheney Lake Reservoir than if it was voluntary (Natural Resources Conservation Service, November,2013).


Holmgren, L. (n.d.). Information about lake ecosystems. Retrieved from

Watson, R., Scarborough, B. (n.d.). Cheney Lake Watershed: Farming water quality in Kansas. Retrieved from

Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks, . (n.d.). Kansas Wildlife Parks. Retrieved from

Natural Resources Conservation Service, . (November,2013). Ephemeral Gully erosion in Cheney Lake Watershed. Retrieved from

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