Garden pond diversity: opportunities for urban freshwater conservation

Matthew Hill, Paul J. Wood, Win Fairchild, Penny Williams, Pascale Nicolet, Jeremy Biggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Urbanisation is increasing globally, degrading terrestrial and freshwater habitats and reducing faunal and floral richness. Whilst the potential for garden ponds to serve as important biodiversity resources in urban areas has been documented in a limited number of studies, quantifying the contribution of garden ponds to urban freshwater diversity has been largely neglected. This study aims to quantify the taxonomic richness, community composition and conservation value of aquatic macroinvertebrates in domestic garden and non-urban ponds. Taxonomic richness was significantly lower in garden ponds than non-urban ponds at an alpha and gamma scale. A greater richness of Odonata, Coleoptera, Gastropoda and Hemiptera were recorded in non-urban ponds. Garden ponds were found to support compositionally different macroinvertebrate communities compared to non-urban ponds, influenced by variation in water depth and conductivity. A total of 23 taxa were recorded from garden ponds only. Non-urban ponds had a significantly higher conservation value compared to garden ponds (87% of garden ponds were of low or moderate conservation value, while only 35% of non-urban ponds were in these categories). Although urban garden ponds currently support limited macroinvertebrate diversity and have lower conservation value, they contribute to the regional species pool and their potential to limit future urban biodiversity loss is significant. Given their high abundance and popularity within the urban landscape, clear guidance is required for pond-owners on how to best manage garden ponds to support and sustain biodiversity. For this to be achieved, research is required to increase fundamental understanding of urban pond ecology, and the development of evidence led garden pond management practices.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBasic and Applied Ecology
Early online date26 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Sep 2021

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