Muckraking Mendota: A Forest of “Weeds”

In Muckraking Mendota: A Naturalist’s Investigations, UW-Madison undergraduate, Emily Hilts, plunges beneath the surface of the Yahara chain of lakes to answer questions about Madison’s aquatic ecosystem. Follow her to uncover your own connection to the lakes.

As I snorkeled among the vegetation, the ‘weeds’ around me looked more like a sprawling neighborhood than the messy jungle it had appeared to be from the surface.

A white water lily flower reaches up toward the surface, where pollinators can access it. Photo: E. Hilts
A white water lily flower reaches up toward the surface, where pollinators can access it. Photo: E. Hilts

I was floating in the southern edge of Lake Wingra, the smallest of the five Yahara lakes, where a stream flows out of the UW arboretum and through cattails into a stand of lilies. We were collecting plants to display for Hasler Lab’s open house, but Ali Mikulyuk had sent me searching for what was proving to be an elusive species, the plant we knew would generate the biggest buzz with our visitors. So I floated at the level of the lily leaves, feeling the freezing swirl of stream water under me and Jacuzzi-like warmth of the surface water over my back, hunting for a carnivore. Continue Reading…

1 thought on “Muckraking Mendota: A Forest of “Weeds””

  1. Very cool photo of lilies. In my LTER days would lay on my back in the “weeds” on TL and take in the sun, air permitting of course (on break from macrophyte sampling, ya know).
    Cheers!

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