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Disappearing Black Forest lake returns

The Local · 29 Feb 2012, 11:36

Published: 29 Feb 2012 11:36 GMT+01:00

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The Eichen Lake, a body of water which can be nothing more than a dent in the ground for years at a time before filling with water again for a few weeks or months, offers the rare conditions needed by an ancient branchiopod.

The lake, near Schopfheim close to the Swiss border, is a natural phenomenon, filling with water when the groundwater level becomes high enough from rain or melting snow. It has been full now for several days – to the delight of Hartmut Heise, a pensioner who lives nearby.

He observes the fresh water shrimp each time the lake fills with water. “Evolution produced these special shrimp 440 million years ago and since then they have barely changed,” he told Die Welt daily.

Heise, who is a volunteer nature warden in the area, said the small lake was the only place in Germany where the two-centimetre long shrimp were found – and that there were only seven other places in Europe where irregular lakes meant they could live.

“The animal adapted to its environment perfectly as to survive, the fertilised eggs first of all need around four weeks of water and then dryness. The dry phase can last two years or even longer, it doesn’t matter. Only when the Eichener Lake appears again and the eggs are in the water again do they develop further.”

The lake has been included in nature protection measures for 70 years. When full it is around 250 metres long and 130 wide, and up to 2.5 metres deep.

Story continues below…

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:48 February 29, 2012 by iseedaftpeople
it's always fun reading about such marvels of evolution. A highly specialized - and highly localized - sub-species which has adapted perfectly to such unusual conditions as a disappearing and reappearing lake... and even needs these precise conditions to flourish... it just blows your mind...
17:02 February 29, 2012 by DoubleDTown
looks like this lake is in or near a "disappearing" part of the Black Forest. :-)
19:20 February 29, 2012 by Englishted
@Chango Mutney

A pond? where I come from we have bigger puddles .

Tell that to the young people and they won't believe you .

(Thanks to Monty Python .See I'm not Herr von cut and paste)
12:08 March 1, 2012 by raandy
Yes, a small pond at that.

It is interesting that this species has survived, but I remember in my Biology class, we use to put dry Brine shrimp eggs in water and wait for them to develop.
08:35 March 2, 2012 by Gretl
Definitely a small pond. Lakes have inflow and outflow sources, ponds are static relying on ground water or rainfall.
03:16 March 5, 2012 by RedLeg6
A large deep puddle. We have strange critters that crawl out of ours too, when it's a wet year.
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