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Keywords:

  • ponds;
  • invertebrates;
  • ecological integrity;
  • landscape;
  • patch dynamics

Abstract

  • 1.
    Present understanding of the ecology and conservation of European ponds is built upon two traditions: first, extensive surveys of many ponds, often based on one visit and second, intensive experiments usually restricted to one site but over longer periods. Neither approach adequately captures the long-term spatial and temporal dynamics of pond invertebrates.
  • 2.
    Over the last decade the significance of landscape, land use and species turnover between ponds has been highlighted both for the conservation of pond wildlife and as a key factor in the ecology of pond invertebrates. These large-scale spatial patterns and the resulting heterogeneity of ponds and their wildlife are not effectively addressed by the tradition of intensive, single-site experiments. Longer-term databases, sufficient to allow analysis of species turnover, show considerable annual temporal variation in species' distributions, a phenomenon not adequately addressed by extensive, single-year surveys.
  • 3.
    The limited number of studies that combine landscape spatial scale with inter-annual time scales all suggest that important invertebrate dynamics occur at these levels. Species and metacommunities show spatial variation and inter-annual turnover. Data from a 10-year study of small, experimental ponds show temporal and spatial variation in species distributions and community measures responding to scales from the individual pond up to long-term climate trends, e.g. the North Atlantic Oscillation.
  • 4.
    The ecological integrity of ponds requires the conservation of this potential for variation, change and heterogeneity.

Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.