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

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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.

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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.

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Correspondence to David G. Gledhill.

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Gledhill, D.G., James, P. & Davies, D.H. Pond density as a determinant of aquatic species richness in an urban landscape. Landscape Ecol 23, 1219–1230 (2008).

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