Geology’s Relationship to Flora & Fauna
This Flora section is largely excerpted from a report commissioned by the Environmental Commission in 1994 entitled: “SURVEY OF NATURAL COMMUNITIES PRESENT IN THE BOROUGH OF MOUNTAIN LAKES”, compiled by Richard P. Radis.
As noted earlier, Mountain Lakes is part of the Highlands Region with its ancient gneissic rocks, ridges, and rugged glacial terrain. The Borough sits atop the Terminal Moraine, the area where the ice reached its southern limit in the Wisconsin Glaciation, less than 20,000 years ago. Evidence of this most recent glaciation can be seen in the boulder fields, rock striations, recessional moraines, and large glacial erratics found in the town. Plant species which occur here, and to a lesser extent animal species, are reflective of the glacial history and glacial soils of the area.
The fact that much of the undeveloped Borough property is wooded provides the benefits of shade, air purification by the trees and a natural cooling effect. When the trees are in leaf, they also provide the added benefit of a sound buffer which significantly reduces the traffic noise from the nearby interstate highways. Borough owned lots also provide a natural habitat for the preservation of other natural resources such as wild birds, insects and animal populations as well as many species of trees and plant life.
Habitats present in the Borough include suburban (roads and roadsides, mowed lawns and landscaped areas, athletic fields, commercial sites, paved areas); lacustrine (lake); palustrine (streamside); red maple swamp; marsh (rare); scrub-shrub (rare); mixed deciduous uplands; forested wetland; forested ecotones; and flooded woods and developing marsh caused by beavers. There are a number of small microhabitats present, such as boggy spots with sphagnum moss, ravine, seepage areas and seepage slopes, and intermittent streams. A few amphibian species are of potential occurrence in some of wetland habitats. Other vertebrate wildlife present in the town is reflective of the larger habitats, and is representative of the Highlands region as a whole.
Dominant species found in each community are discussed below, and a list of all species encountered during the Radis survey is contained in Appendix 2.
Inventory Sampling Methods
Sampling visits, varying in duration from one to several hours, were conducted during July, August, September, and October of 1994, and covered most of the lacustrine (lake), wetland, and upland tracts present in the Borough. Plant species were recorded when encountered, though no attempt was made to conduct a complete inventory of vascular plants present, as such a study is time-intensive and requires an entire growing season. Roadsides, roadside shade tree plantings, or landscaped areas were not surveyed. A total of twenty-three hours was spent in the field.
Community classifications used in this study have been adapted from three publications: A Preliminary Natural Community Classification for New Jersey (Breden 1989); Plant Communities of New Jersey (Robichaud and Anderson 1994); and Natural Community Inventory of Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey (Windisch 1993).
Habitat types are not always sharply distinct; because of variations in soil type, topography, historical land use patterns, and other factors, they sometimes grade into one another and share characteristics. Such transition zones are noted in the report. For reasons of clarity, the technical names of plants do not appear in the body of the text except to distinguish species which share similar common names. For example, “wintergreen” in this area can be one of two species, Gaultheria procumbens or Chimaphila maculata, while “blueberry” and “huckleberry” are often used interchangeably even though they constitute two distinct heath genera, Vaccinium and Gaylussacia. A “sedge” can be any of several hundred species which occur in the state.
A list of citings giving both common and technical names appears in Appendix 2. Nomenclature in general follows that adopted in Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada (Gleason and Cronquist 1991), and keys contained in this text were used in several identification problems. Some common names have been adopted from Special Plants of New Jersey (Snyder 1992).