Does it mat­ter if my pond dries up?

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Our Wild World -

AThe sight of a dry pond in sum­mer once sent many pond own­ers (in­clud­ing me) run­ning for the hose. But the ad­vice is now chang­ing – many ponds may ac­tu­ally ben­e­fit from a dry year or two.

This is be­cause ponds are, by their na­ture, tran­sient habi­tats and have been this way for mil­lions of years. As such, many of the or­gan­isms within them have adap­ta­tions for sur­viv­ing dry spells. Wa­ter snails re­treat into their shells; wa­ter bee­tles fly to neigh­bour­ing ponds and cad­dis­fly nymphs dig down into wet mud. Even tad­poles can mod­ify their

growth dur­ing dry years to es­cape the pond more quickly as tiny froglets.

Dry pe­ri­ods can be vi­tal for the seed ger­mi­na­tion of some plant species, and can also ben­e­fit an­i­mals such as newts, as they trig­ger a ‘clean-out’ of preda­tors such as drag­on­flies and three-spined stick­le­backs.

This isn’t to say all ponds ben­e­fit from dry spells. Plas­tic pond lin­ers, for in­stance, can be­come dam­aged by the sun’s ra­di­a­tion if they are ex­posed for too long. Ponds like this may need reg­u­lar top­ping-up with rain­wa­ter.

Jules Howard

Tad­poles will sur­vive in just 2–5cm of pond wa­ter, but can de­velop into froglets more quickly in or­der to hop away.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.