How to maximally support local and regional biodiversity in applied conservation? Insights from pond management

Pieter Lemmens, Joachim Mergeay, Tom De Bie, Jeroen Van Wichelen, Luc De Meester, Steven A. J. Declerck

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    Biodiversity and nature values in anthropogenic landscapes often depend on land use practices and management. Evaluations of the association between management and biodiversity remain, however, comparatively scarce, especially in aquatic systems. Furthermore, studies also tend to focus on a limited set of organism groups at the local scale, whereas a multi-group approach at the landscape scale is to be preferred. This study aims to investigate the effect of pond management on the diversity of multiple aquatic organism groups (e.g. phytoplankton, zooplankton, several groups of macro-invertebrates, submerged and emergent macrophytes) at local and regional spatial scales. For this purpose, we performed a field study of 39 shallow man-made ponds representing five different management types. Our results indicate that fish stock management and periodic pond drainage are crucial drivers of pond biodiversity. Furthermore, this study provides insight in how the management of eutrophied ponds can contribute to aquatic biodiversity. A combination of regular draining of ponds with efforts to keep ponds free of fish seems to be highly beneficial for the biodiversity of many groups of aquatic organisms at local and regional scales. Regular draining combined with a stocking of fish at low biomass is also preferable to infrequent draining and lack of fish stock control. These insights are essential for the development of conservation programs that aim long-term maintenance of regional biodiversity in pond areas across Europe.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Pages (from-to)e72538
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

    Thematic list

    • Management

    EWI Biomedical sciences

    • B003-ecology
    • B006-agricultural-science

    Taxonomic list

    • zooplankton (Cladocera, Copepoda, Ostracoda)
    • angiosperms (flowering plants) (Angiospermae)
    • bony fishes (Osteichtyes)
    • beetles (Coleoptera)


    • aquatic management


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