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Water fleas as key to hydrology of coastal ponds

Sara’s prize poster at international workshop

Water fleas as key to hydrology of coastal ponds

Sara Martins, a UCLGeography PhD researcher, won a prize for one of the best postgraduate posters at the 7th European Pond Conservation Network (EPCN) Workshop, held at the University of Algarve on 1-6 May 2017.

The poster presented Sara’s research on the distinct water habitats of temporary ponds in the coastal dunes of northwest Ireland, as reflected in the presence of various Cladocera (water fleas). The conservation status of such ponds has been assessed as deteriorating, with an increasing rate of habitat loss.

The ponds studied reflected a range of hydrological and geomorphological characteristics, although sharing some common features. These included shallow depth (<1.5 m), oligotrophic and sandy conditions, and a dense cover of aquatic mosses (Sphagnum sp) and/or stoneworts (Chara sp).

Of the 12 Cladocera identified to species level, Chydorus sphaericus was the most abundant and ubiquitous, being present in all sites. Most species had a preference for highly vegetated ponds and some tolerance to salinity.

Sara’s general conclusion was that, in spite of high levels of annual rainfall in NW Ireland, the sandy beds of the ponds made them easily drained. This supported seasonal drying, favouring species adapted to temporary pond environments. Other factors which probably also influence cladoceran and macrophyte distribution require further analysis, included pond size, water chemistry and sediment texture.

For Sara’s poster, click here.


Dry (September 2015) and flooded (March 2016) phases of a pond in Magheramore-Sheskinmore dune system, Ireland

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