7 July 2011

A Second Life for Ponds

As well as the exciting education projects covered by recent Croaks, Froglife is also undertaking valuable research work to provide a scientific basis for our conservation work. Our Second Life for Ponds project looked at the effects of different pond restoration techniques on a whole range of species, including the great crested newt.

Ponds are constantly changing. Each year dead plants and animals slowly build up and this changes how the pond behaves, which in turn impacts on the species which can be expected to thrive. Some species, such as the very rare bearded stonewort (in the UK found exclusively in Peterborough and one Scottish loch), are very sensitive to this organic build-up and will quickly die out if new ponds aren’t dug or existing ponds restored. However, other species are adapted to these later succession ponds and could be harmed by restoration works.
A digger completing mechanical pond restoration
Our results show that complete restoration is the most effective management technique for restoring bearded stonewort to ponds, but even partial restoration may have an effect. However, this technique also radically altered the invertebrate assemblage and made those ponds unsuitable for water voles. Curiously the effect on great crested newts was unclear, but we are continuing to monitor these ponds to provide a third year of data.

“This was the perfect project for Hampton Nature Reserve,” said Paul Furnborough, Conservation Officer at Froglife “With over 300 ponds on site we were able to research not only the effects of five different techniques but to have replicates as well – an essential element of experimental studies. This is an important addition to the growing discipline of evidence-based conservation.”

We are confident that findings from this study will inform land managers across the country.

Volunteers helping with manual pond clearance
We'd like to thank the the SITA Trust and all the experts involved in making Second Life for Ponds such an interesting project with a really thorough report.
You can support our work conserving reptiles and amphibians like toads for as little as £1.50 a month. Sign up as a Froglife Friend and help save species and habitats here.

No comments: