Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 975–985 | Cite as

Conservation value of post-mining headwaters: drainage channels at a lignite spoil heap harbour threatened stream dragonflies

  • Filip Tichanek
  • Robert Tropek


Headwaters and small streams are crucial components of riverine systems, harbouring many highly specialized and unique invertebrate species. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of the Central European lowland headwaters are channelized, eutrophicated and/or polluted, and many related species have become critically endangered. Artificial streams established to drain some post-mining sites supplement a network of headwaters and generally do not suffer from agricultural pollution. Nevertheless, the biodiversity and conservation potential of the streams at post-mining sites has never been evaluated. We studied the biodiversity of dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) at 53 sections (30 m) of an extraordinarily dense system of drainage ditches at a large lignite spoil heap in the Czech Republic. We recorded 22 dragonfly species, of which eight are threatened according to the national Red List. Moreover, four of them are closely associated with the endangered environment of small streams. Overall diversity was generally low at very tiny and/or narrowed streams and was also strongly reduced by high water velocity, high bankside inclination and dominance of expansive common reeds. Sufficient cover of rather shallow sediment layers strongly supports the studied diversity indicators. We thus conclude that post-mining streams in drainage ditches could have a strong potential to offer secondary habitats for threatened headwater biodiversity. However, intermittent reed suppression and the establishment of gently sloping banks and a structured stream bottom are necessary measures for maximizing post-mining stream conservation.


Biodiversity conservation Drainage ditches Freshwater habitats Odonata Post-industrial sites Restoration management 



We would like to thank Petr Šmilauer for revision of our statistics and helpful comments on earlier drafts, to David Boukal for help with the research planning, to Simona Poláková for advice on statistics and to Matthew Sweney for proofreading of our English. The study was financed by the Czech Science Foundation (P504/12/2525), the University of South Bohemia (GAJU 168/2013/P), and the institutional support Grant RVO:60077344.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of ScienceUniversity of South BohemiaCeske BudejoviceCzech Republic
  2. 2.Institute of Entomology, Biology CentreCzech Academy of SciencesCeske BudejoviceCzech Republic
  3. 3.Faculty of ScienceCharles University in PraguePraha 2Czech Republic

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