Conservation through the protection of particular habitats is predicated on the assumption that the conservation value of those habitats is stable. We test this assumption for ponds by investigating temporal variation in macroinvertebrate and macrophyte communities over a 10-year period in northwest England. We surveyed 51 ponds in northern England in 1995/6 and again in 2006, identifying all macrophytes (167 species) and all macroinvertebrates (221 species, excluding Diptera) to species. The alpha-diversity, beta-diversity and conservation value of these ponds were compared between surveys. We find that invertebrate species richness increased from an average of 29.5 species to 39.8 species between surveys. Invertebrate gamma-diversity also increased between the two surveys from 181 species to 201 species. However, this increase in diversity was accompanied by a decrease in beta-diversity. Plant alpha-, beta- and gamma-diversity remained approximately constant between the two periods. However, increased proportions of grass species and a complete loss of charophytes suggests that the communities are undergoing succession. Conservation value was not correlated between sampling periods in either plants or invertebrates. This was confirmed by comparing ponds that had been disturbed with those that had no history of disturbance to demonstrate that levels of correlation between surveys were approximately equal in each group of ponds. This study has three important conservation implications: (i) a pond with high diversity or high conservation value may not remain that way and so it is unwise to base pond conservation measures upon protecting currently-speciose habitats; (ii) maximising pond gamma-diversity requires a combination of late and early succession ponds, especially for invertebrates; and (iii) invertebrate and plant communities in ponds may require different management strategies if succession occurs at varying rates in the two groups.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Angélibert S, Marty P, Céréghino R, Giani N (2004) Seasonal variations in the physical and chemical characteristics of ponds: implications for biodiversity conservation. Aquat Conserv Marine Freshw Ecosyst 14:439–456
Angélibert S, Rosset V, Indermuehle N, Oertli B (2010) The pond biodiversity index “IBEM”: a new tool for the rapid assessment of biodiversity in ponds from Switzerland. Part 1. Index development. Limnetica 29:93–104
Barnes LE (1983) The colonisation of ball-clay ponds by macroinvertebrates and macrophytes. Freshw Biol 13:561–578
Biggs J, Williams P, Whitfield M, Nicolet P, Weatherby A (2005) 15 years of pond assessment in Britain: results and lessons learned from the work of Pond Conservation. Aquat Conserv Marine Freshw Ecosyst 15:693–714
Boothby J (1997) Pond conservation: towards a delineation of pondscape. Aquat Conserv Marine Freshw Ecosyst 7:127–132
Boothby J, Hull AP (1997) A census of ponds in Cheshire, North West England. Aquat Conserv Marine Freshw Ecosyst 7:75–79
Briers RA, Warren PH (2000) Population turnover and habitat dynamics in Notonecta (Hemiptera: Notonectidae) metapopulations. Oecologia 123:216–222
Céréghino R, Biggs J, Oertli B, Declerck S (2008) The ecology of European ponds: defining the characteristics of a neglected freshwater habitat. Hydrobiologia 597:1–6
Chadd R, Extence C (2004) The conservation of freshwater macroinvertebrate populations: a community-based classification scheme. Aquat Conserv Marine Freshw Ecosyst 14:597–624
Chase JM (2007) Drought mediates the importance of stochastic community assembly. Proc Natl Acad Sci 104:17430–17434
Cottenie K, De Meester L (2003) Connectivity and cladoceran species richness in a metacommunity of shallow lakes. Freshw Biol 48:823–832
Davies B, Biggs J, Williams P, Whitfield M, Nicolet P, Sear D, Bray S, Maund S (2008) Comparative biodiversity of aquatic habitats in the European agricultural landscape. Agric Ecosyst Environ 125:1–8
Downing JA, Cole JJ, Middelburg JJ, Striegel RG, Duarte CM, Kortelainen P, Prairie YT and Laube KA (2008) Sediment organic carbon burial in agriculturally eutrophic impoundments over the last century. Glob Biogeochem Cycles 22:GB1018
Eyre MD, Ball SG, Foster GN (1986) An initial classification of the habitats of aquatic Coleoptera in north–east England. J Appl Ecol 23:841–852
Fairchild GW, Faulds AM, Matta JF (2000) Beetle assemblages in ponds: effects of habitat and site age. Freshw Biol 44:523–534
Fortuna MA, Gómez-Rodríguez C, Bascompte J (2006) Spatial network structure and amphibian persistence in stochastic environments. Proc Royal Soc Ser B (Biological Sciences) 273:1429–1434
Hassall C, Hollinshead J, Hull A (2011) Environmental correlates of plant and invertebrate species richness in ponds. Biodivers Conserv 20:3189–3222
Hawkins J, Schofield D (2003) Scoping the potential for farm ponds to provide environmental benefits. IGER, North Wyke
Indermuehle N, Oertli B, Menetrey N, Sager L (2004) An overview of methods potentially suitable for pond biodiversity assessment. Arch Sci 57:131–140
Indermuehle N, Angélibert S, Rosset V, Oertli B (2010) The pond biodiversity index “IBEM”: a new tool for the rapid assessment of biodiversity in ponds from Switzerland. Part 2. Method description and examples of application. Limnetica 29:105–120
Jeffries MJ (1994) Invertebrate communities and turnover in wetland ponds affected by drought. Freshw Biol 32:603–612
Jeffries MJ (2005) Small ponds and big landscapes: the challenge of invertebrate spatial and temporal dynamics for European pond conservation. Aquat Conserv Marine Freshw Ecosyst 15:541–547
Jeffries MJ (2008) The spatial and temporal heterogeneity of macrophyte communities in thirty small, temporary ponds over a period of ten years. Ecography 31:765–775
Jeffries MJ (2011) The temporal dynamics of temporary pond macroinvertebrate communities over a 10-year period. Hydrobiologia 661:391–405
Koleff P, Gaston KJ, Lennon JJ (2003) Measuring beta diversity for presence–absence data. J Anim Ecol 72:367–382
Macan TT (1977) A twenty-year study of the fauna in the vegetation of a moorland fishpond. Archiv für Hydrobiologie 81:1–24
Menetrey N, Sager L, Lachavanne JB, Oertli B (2005) Looking for metrics to assess the trophic state of ponds. Macroinvertebrates and amphibians. Aquat Conserv Marine Freshw Ecosyst 15:653–664
Moore NW (1991) A 27 year study on small ponds at Woodwalton Fen, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom. Odonatologica 20:203–231
Moss B (1998) Ecology of freshwaters: man and medium, past to future. Blackwell, Oxford
Oertli B, Joye DA, Castella E, Juge R, Lehmann A, Lachavanne J-B (2005) PLOCH: a standardized method for sampling and assessing the biodiversity in ponds. Aquat Conserv Marine Freshw Ecosyst 15:665–679
R Development Core Team (2006) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna
Raebel EM, Merckx T, Riordan P, Macdonald DW, Thompson DJ (2010) The dragonfly delusion: why it is essential to sample exuviae to avoid biased surveys. J Insect Conserv 14:523–533
Sherratt TN, Thomas CJ, Conrad KF, Willson KH, Harvey IF (1999) Landscape approaches in ecotoxicology. The Association of Applied Biologists. Aspects of Applied Biology, Warwick, pp 227–234
Wade PM (1990) The colonisation of disturbed freshwater habitats by Characeae. Folia Geobot 25:275–278
Wanielista MP, Yousef YA (1993) Stormwater management. Wiley, Oxford
Williams P, Biggs J, Whitfield M, Thorne A, Bryant S, Fox G, Nicolet P (1999) The pond book: a guide to the management and creation of ponds. Ponds Conservation Trust, Oxford
Williams P, Whitfield M, Biggs J, Bray S, Fox G, Nicolet P, Sear DA (2004) Comparative biodiversity of rivers, streams, ditches and ponds in an agricultural landscape in Southern England. Biol Conserv 115:329–341
Williams P, Whitfield M, Biggs J (2008) How can we make new ponds biodiverse? A case study monitored over 7 years. Hydrobiologia 597:137–148
The Pond Life Project was funded by the Life Programme of the European Union and a consortium of partners, including Cheshire County Council, with Warrington and Vale Royal Borough Councils. We are indebted to the skill and knowledge of Jonathan Guest who carried out the pond surveys. CH was supported by a Government of Canada Postdoctoral Research Fellowship and an Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation Fellowship.
About this article
Cite this article
Hassall, C., Hollinshead, J. & Hull, A. Temporal dynamics of aquatic communities and implications for pond conservation. Biodivers Conserv 21, 829–852 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-011-0223-9