How can we make new ponds biodiverse? A case study monitored over 7 years
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- Williams, P., Whitfield, M. & Biggs, J. Hydrobiologia (2008) 597: 137. doi:10.1007/s10750-007-9224-9
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A new pond complex, designed to enhance aquatic biodiversity, was monitored over a 7-year period. The Pinkhill Meadow site, located in grassland adjacent to the R. Thames, proved unusually rich in terms of its macrophyte, aquatic macroinvertebrate and wetland bird assemblages. In total, the 3.2 ha mosaic of ca. 40 permanent, semi-permanent and seasonal ponds and pools was colonized by approximately 20% of all UK wetland plant and macroinvertebrate species over the 7-year survey period. This included eight invertebrate species that are Nationally Scarce in the UK. The site supported three breeding species of wading bird and was used by an additional 54 species of waders, waterfowl and other wetland birds. The results from four monitoring ponds investigated in more detail showed that these ponds significantly supported more plant and macroinvertebrate species than both minimally impaired UK reference ponds, and other new ponds for which compatible data were available. Comparisons of the physico-chemical, hydrological and land-use characteristics of the Pinkhill pools with those of other new ponds showed that the site was unusual in having a high proportion of wetlands in the near surrounds. It also had significantly lower water conductivity than other ponds and a higher proportion of (non-woodland) semi-natural land in its surroundings. Given that ponds are known to contribute significantly to UK biodiversity at a landscape level, and that several thousand new ponds are created each year in the UK alone, the findings suggest that well designed and located pond complexes could be used to significantly enhance freshwater biodiversity within catchments.