Landscape Ecology

, Volume 23, Issue 10, pp 1219–1230 | Cite as

Pond density as a determinant of aquatic species richness in an urban landscape

  • David G. Gledhill
  • Philip James
  • David H. Davies
Research Article


Green spaces within urban areas provide services and benefits to human populations and habitat for a variety of species. Freshwater, in the form of rivers, canals, lakes, reservoirs and ponds, is an important component of urban greenspaces. This paper focuses on ponds; and specifically ponds within urban areas. This work is timely as during 2008 ponds were designated, in the UK, as habitats of national conservation importance. Yet, while farmland ponds have received considerable attention, there has been little work on the ecology and landscape ecology of urban ponds. Ecological data was collected from 37 ponds in the Borough of Halton (northwest England) over a period of 2 years (2005–2006). The median species richness in these ponds was 28 invertebrate species and 10 macrophyte species. A highly significant correlation was observed between pond density and species richness. The relationship between the richness of different taxa varied according to scale; becoming more significant within pond clusters than within a single pond. These findings have significance for those involved in planning and managing urban environments, further strengthening the need for functional ecological connectivity in urban areas. With pressure to increase infill development, and thus raise housing density, a greater understanding of the affect of urban design on pond ecology will be of importance to urban planners and ecologists alike.


Urban Ponds Northwest England Urban design Pond density Species richness 



The authors would like to thank: Andrew Harmer Consultants and Bill Bellamy Associates for species data collected as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded project “Making the Most of Halton’s Ponds” and Paul Oldfield (Nature Conservation Officer, Halton Borough Council) for granting access to pond sites. Pond Audit data was provided by the Ponds Research Unit, Liverpool John Moores University. Laboratory water analysis was carried out with the assistance of Vanessa Barat, Mathieu Viossanges, Thomas Auger, Angélique Autef and Audrey Arnaud.


  1. Arntzen JW, Wallis GP (1991) Restricted gene flow in a moving hybrid zone of the newts Triturus cristatus and T. marmoratus in Western France. Evolution 45:805–826. doi: 10.2307/2409691 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Banks B, Laverick G (1986) Garden ponds as amphibian breeding sites in a conurbation in northeast England (Sunderland, Tyne and Wear). Herpetol J 1:44–50Google Scholar
  3. Beebe TJC (1979) Habitats of British amphibians (2) suburban parks and gardens. Biol Conserv 15:241–247. doi: 10.1016/0006-3207(79)90046-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beer AR (2003) Greenstructure and urban planning—case study. Research into Biodiversity in Domestic Gardens, Sheffield, UK. Available at Accessed 17 March 2008
  5. Biggs J, Whitfield M, Williams P, Fox G, Nicolet P (1998) Factors affecting the nature conservation value of ponds: results of the National Pond Survey. In: Proceedings of the ponds conference 1998, Denman College, Abingdon, Oxon, 10–12th December 1998Google Scholar
  6. Biggs J, Williams P, Whitfield M, Nicolet P, Weatherby A (2005) 15 years of pond assessment in the Britain: results and lessons learned from the work of pond conservation. Aquat Conserv Mar Freshwat Ecosyst 15(6):693–714. doi: 10.1002/aqc.745 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blackman D (2007) 30,000 homes needed each year. Society guardian [Online], Wednesday, 27th April 2005. Available online at,1470568,00.html. Accessed 27 September 2007
  8. Boothby J (ed) (2000) A landscape worth saving: final report of the pond biodiversity survey of northwest England. Pond life project. Liverpool John Moores University, LiverpoolGoogle Scholar
  9. Briers RA, Biggs J (2005) Spatial patterns in pond invertebrate communities: separating environmental and distance effects. Aquat Conserv Mar Freshwat Ecosyst 15:549–557. doi: 10.1002/aqc.742 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bullock DJ, Oldham K, Corbett K (1998) Habitats and their management. In: Gent T, Gibson S (eds) Herpetofauna workers manual. JNCC, PeterboroughGoogle Scholar
  11. CIRIA (2000) Sustainable urban drainage systems—design manual for Scotland and Northern Ireland, CIRIA report C521. CIRIA, LondonGoogle Scholar
  12. Clapton M (1998) Invincible green suburbs, brave new towns. Manchester University Press, ManchesterGoogle Scholar
  13. Communities and Local Government (2006) Planning policy statement 3: housing. Department of Communities and Local Government, LondonGoogle Scholar
  14. Conrad KF, Willson KH, Harvey IF, Sherratt TN (1999) Dispersal characteristics of seven odonate species in an agricultural landscape. Ecography 22:524–531Google Scholar
  15. Convention on Biodiversity (1992) Text of the convention on biodiversity available at Accessed 18 March 2008
  16. Cross J (2005) Halton Borough Council Provisional Local Transport Plan 2006/07 to 2010/11 appendix 3: provisional strategic environmental assessment environmental report. Report no. 12175/R03, produced by Gifford Ltd on behalf of Halton Borough Council, July 2005Google Scholar
  17. Delettre YR, Morvan N (2000) Dispersal of adult aquatic Chironomidae (Diptera) in agricultural landscapes. Freshw Biol 44(3):399–411. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2427.2000.00578.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. English Nature (1997) A framework for the future: green networks with multiple uses in and around towns and cities. English Nature, Research report no 256, PeterboroughGoogle Scholar
  19. English Nature (2001) Great crested newt mitigation guidelines. English Nature (now Natural England), PeterboroughGoogle Scholar
  20. English Partnerships (2005) English Partnerships, the National Regeneration Agency: New towns. Available at Accessed 4 June 2007
  21. European Commission (1992) Directive/92/43/EC of the European Parliament and the Council, 21st May 1992: the conservation of natural habitats and of wild flora and fauna (Habitats directive). Off J EC L206(50)Google Scholar
  22. Foster J (2007) Amphibians in the garden: your questions answered. Natural England gardening for nature, no: 18. Natural England, PeterboroughGoogle Scholar
  23. Gaston KJ, Smith RM, Thompson K, Warren PH (2005) Urban domestic gardens: experimental tests of methods for increasing biodiversity. Biodivers Conserv 14:395–413. doi: 10.1007/s10531-004-6066-x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gee JHR, Smith BD, Lee KM, Wynn-Griffiths S (1998) The ecological basis of freshwater pond management for biodiversity. Aquat Conserv Mar Freshwat Ecosyst 17(2):91–104Google Scholar
  25. Gent T, Gibson S (2003) The Herpetofauna worker’s manual. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, PeterboroughGoogle Scholar
  26. Gledhill DG (1999) Factors affecting the occurrence and distribution of native amphibians species in northwest England. Undergraduate dissertation, School of Biological and Earth Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool EnglandGoogle Scholar
  27. Guest JP, Bentley D (1998) Critical pond biodiversity survey. Pond life project. Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, England. Unpublished survey reportGoogle Scholar
  28. Guest J, Harmer A (2006) Amphibian atlas of Cheshire and the Wirral. EnglandGoogle Scholar
  29. Halton Borough Council (2007) Your council: Halton population. Available at Accessed 24 June 2007
  30. Horne MT, Dunson WA (1995) Effects of low pH, metals, and water hardness on larval amphibians. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 29(4):500–505. doi: 10.1007/BF00208380 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lees S, Evans P (2003) Biodiversity’s contribution to the quality of life. A research report for English Nature, no 510. Environmental impacts team, English Nature, February 2003Google Scholar
  32. Linton S, Goulder R (2003) Species richness of aquatic macrophytes in ponds related to number of species in neighbouring water bodies. Arch Hydrobiol 157(4):555–565CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Montgomery DC, Peck EA (1982) Introduction to linear regression analysis. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  34. ODPM (2005) Generalised land use data (GLUD) statistics for England. Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, LondonGoogle Scholar
  35. Oldham RS, Keeble J, Swan MJS, Jeffcote M (2000) Evaluating the suitability of habitat for the great crested newt. Herpetol J 10:143–156Google Scholar
  36. Pond Action (1998) National Lowland Pond Survey 1996. Pond Action Oxford Brookes University, EnglandGoogle Scholar
  37. Ponds Conservation (2002) A guide to monitoring the ecological quality of ponds and canals using PSYM. Pond Conservation Trust, Oxford Brookes University/the Environment Agency, Oxford/West MidlandsGoogle Scholar
  38. Rich T (2000) A comparison of the ponds in the County of Cardiff with the national statistics from the Lowland Pond Survey. In: Pond Action (2000). Proceedings of the Ponds conference 1998. Pond Action, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  39. Rump H, Krist H (1999) Laboratory manual for the examination of water, waste water and soil. Wiley, ChichesterGoogle Scholar
  40. Rundle SD, Foggo A, Choiseul V, Bilton DT (2002) Are distribution patterns linked to dispersal mechanism? An investigation using pond invertebrate assemblages. Freshw Biol 47(9):1571–1581. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2427.2002.00886.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Stoianov I, Charpra S, Maksimovic C (2000) A framework linking urban park land use with pond water quality. Urban Water 2:47–62. doi: 10.1016/S1462-0758(00)00039-X CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sutherland WJ, Hill DA (1995) Managing habitats for conservation. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  43. Swan MJS, Oldham RS (1993) National Amphibian Survey: final report. English Nature research reports no. 38, PeterboroughGoogle Scholar
  44. Swan MJS, Oldham RS (1997) Pond loss and amphibians: a historical perspective. In: Boothby J (ed) British pond landscape: action for protection and enhancement. UK conference of the Pond Life Project, University College Chester, 7–9 September 1997. Pond Life Project, Liverpool, pp 3–16Google Scholar
  45. UK BAP (2008) UK list of priority habitats available at Accessed 8 March 2008
  46. Wyatt N (1998) Birmingham pond survey. Urban Wildlife Trust and Birmingham City Council, BirminghamGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • David G. Gledhill
    • 1
  • Philip James
    • 1
  • David H. Davies
    • 2
  1. 1.Research Institute for the Built and Human Environment, School of Environment and Life Sciences, Peel BuildingUniversity of SalfordSalfordUK
  2. 2.Biomedical Sciences Research Institute, School of Environment and Life Sciences, Peel BuildingUniversity of SalfordSalfordUK

Personalised recommendations