, Volume 597, Issue 1, pp 137–148 | Cite as

How can we make new ponds biodiverse? A case study monitored over 7 years

  • P. Williams
  • M. Whitfield
  • J. Biggs


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.


Constructed ponds Compensatory wetlands Pond age Colonisation Hydroperiod 



We would like to thank the many people and organisations that contributed to this work. Particularly, David Walker who undertook a considerable proportion of the invertebrate and chemical sampling, Thames Water Utilities who own the Pinkhill site, Mike Crafer (Thames Water Utilities) and Alistair Driver (Environment Agency) for instigating and funding the creation of Pinkhill Meadows. Richard Hellier (Environment Agency) for drawing up, and contributing to, the designs of the site, the many bird recorders who entered data into the Pinkhill and Farmoor Log books, Defra who gave permission to reanalyse unpublished data from the Lowland Pond Survey 1996 and Beat Oertli and two anonymous referees for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article. In addition we are particularly indebted to two people: Alistair Driver, who achieved the near impossible by securing funding for the long-term monitoring of Pinkhill under NRA contract F01(91)2 383, and Bernard Johns (dec. 1992) from White Horse Contractors Ltd, who excavated most of the site. The complex is a memorial to his skill and our subsequent pond creation work has benefited greatly from the lessons he taught us.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pond Conservation: The Water Habitats TrustOxford Brookes UniversityOxfordUK

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