A comparison of the catchment sizes of rivers, streams, ponds, ditches and lakes: implications for protecting aquatic biodiversity in an agricultural landscape
- 1.2k Downloads
In this study we compared the biodiversity of five waterbody types (ditches, lakes, ponds, rivers and streams) within an agricultural study area in lowland England to assess their relative contribution to the plant and macroinvertebrate species richness and rarity of the region. We used a Geographical Information System (GIS) to compare the catchment areas and landuse composition for each of these waterbody types to assess the feasibility of deintensifying land to levels identified in the literature as acceptable for aquatic biota. Ponds supported the highest number of species and had the highest index of species rarity across the study area. Catchment areas associated with the different waterbody types differed significantly, with rivers having the largest average catchment sizes and ponds the smallest. The important contribution made to regional aquatic biodiversity by small waterbodies and in particular ponds, combined with their characteristically small catchment areas, means that they are amongst the most valuable, and potentially amongst the easiest, of waterbody types to protect. Given the limited area of land that may be available for the protection of aquatic biodiversity in agricultural landscapes, the deintensification of such small catchments (which can be termed microcatchments) could be an important addition to the measures used to protect aquatic biodiversity, enabling ‘pockets’ of high aquatic biodiversity to occur within working agricultural landscapes.
KeywordsWatershed Microcatchment Aquatic biodiversity Agri-environment schemes Diffuse pollution
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Biggs, J., P. Williams, M. Whitfield, P. Nicolet, C. Brown, J. Hollis, S. Maund, D. Arnold & T. Pepper, 2003. Aquatic Ecosystems in the UK Agricultural Landscape. Report on Project PN0931. Defra, London.Google Scholar
- Clay, J., 2004. World Agriculture and the Environment: A Commodity by Commodity Guide to Impacts and Practices. Island Press, Washington DC.Google Scholar
- Collinson, N., J. Biggs, A. Corfield, M. J. Hodson, D. Walker, M. Whitfield & P. J. Williams, 1995. Temporary and permanent ponds: an assessment of the effects of drying out on the conservation value of aquatic macroinvertebrate communities. Biological Conservation 74: 125–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Davies, B. R., J. Biggs, P. Williams, M. Whitfield, P. Nicolet, D. Sear, S. Bray & S. Maund, in press. Comparative biodiversity of aquatic habitats in the European agricultural landscape. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. doi: 10.1016/j.agee.2007.10.006.
- Declerck, S., T. De Bie, D. Ercken, H. Hampel, S. Schrijvers, J. Van Wichelen, V. Gillard, R. Mandiki, B. Losson, D. Bauwens, S. Keijers, W. Vyverman, B. Goddeeris, L. De Meester, L. Brendonck & K. Martens, 2006. Ecological characteristics of small farmland ponds: associations with land use practices at multiple spatial scales. Biological Conservation 131: 523–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Environment Agency, 2006. Concise Register of Gauging Stations. Retrieved March 29th 2006 from http://www.nwl.ac.uk/ih/nrfa/station_summaries/op/EA-Thames2.html
- ESRI, 2001. ESRI Support Centre: Hydro Data Model [available for download from the World Wide Web at: http://www.support.esri.com/index.cfm?fa=downloads.dataModels.filteredGateway&dmid=15]
- Foley, J. A., R. DeFries, G. P. Asner, C. Barford, G. Bonan, S. R. Carpenter, F. S. Chapin, M. T. Coe, G. C. Daily, H. K. Gibbs, J. H. Helkowski, T. Holloway, E.A. Howard, C. J. Kucharik, C. Monfreda, J. A. Patz, C. Prentice, N. Ramankutty & P. K. Snyder, 2005. Global consequences of land use. Science 309: 570–574.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Hynes, H. B. N., 1975. The stream and its valley. Verhandlungen der Internationale Vereingigung Fur Limnology 19: 1–15.Google Scholar
- Johnes, P., B. Moss & G. Phillips, 1994. Lakes – Classification and Monitoring. Environment Agency R&D Note 253. Environment Agency, Bristol.Google Scholar
- Quinn, J. M., 2000. Effect of pastoral development. In Collier, K. J. & M. J. Winterbourn (eds), New Zealand Stream Invertebrates: Ecology and Implications for Management. Caxton, Christchurch, New Zealand.Google Scholar
- Lund, J. W. G. & C. S. Reynolds, 1982. The development and operation of large limnetic enclosures in Blenham Tarn, English Lake District, and their contribution to phytoplankton ecology. Progress in Phycological Research 1: 2–65.Google Scholar
- Muir, R., 1999. Approaches to Landscape. Macmillan, Basingstoke.Google Scholar
- Yates, A. G., R. C. Bailey & J. A. Schwindt, 2006. No-till cultivation improves stream ecosystem quality. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 61: 14–19.Google Scholar