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Poor ecological quality of urban ponds in northern England: causes and consequences

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The value of ponds in urban areas historically has been overlooked. While some recent studies have described considerable biodiversity in urban areas, it is unclear as to how far this extends to different urban habitats. The aims of this study were to determine the condition of 21 urban ponds in Bradford (northern England) and to quantify the connectivity of wetlands in the district. The study showed that macroinvertebrate and plant biodiversity was substantially lower than would be expected based on pristine reference sites. Of the 21 ponds surveyed, 15 were found to be classified as having very poor ecological quality, with 5 being classed as poor and just 1 was classed as moderate. The number of aquatic plant species found in the ponds ranged from 0 to 6 and the number of macroinvertebrate families found ranged from 4 to 13. It was suspected that the aquatic plant diversity was low due to management techniques such as the removal of emergent vegetation. The average distance to a wetland was found to be higher in urban areas (533 m) compared to rural areas (448 m) although this difference was small, which indicates that the low diversity found in urban ponds is likely due to habitat variables.

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This study was funded by the University of Leeds. We would like to thank Bradford Council and the Bradford Environmental Education Service for permission to survey their sites, and Anne Heeley and Estelle Skinner for their assistance in determining the location and ownership of a number of the urban ponds.

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Correspondence to Christopher Hassall.

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Noble, A., Hassall, C. Poor ecological quality of urban ponds in northern England: causes and consequences. Urban Ecosyst 18, 649–662 (2015).

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