Does it matter if my pond dries up?
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.
Tadpoles will survive in just 2–5cm of pond water, but can develop into froglets more quickly in order to hop away.