The distribution of pond snail communities across a landscape: separating out the influence of spatial position from local habitat quality for ponds in south-east Northumberland, UK

Andrew Zealand, Mike Jeffries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Ponds support a rich biodiversity because the heterogeneity of individual ponds creates, at the landscape scale, a diversity of habitats for wildlife. The distribution of pond animals and plants will be influenced by both the local conditions within a pond and the spatial distribution of ponds across the landscape. Separating out the local from the spatial is difficult because the two are often linked. Pond snails are likely to be affected by both local conditions, e.g. water hardness, and spatial patterns, e.g. distance between ponds, but studies of snail communities struggle distinguishing between the two. In this study, communities of snails were recorded from 52 ponds in a biogeographically coherent landscape in north-east England. The distribution of snail communities was compared to local environments characterised by the macrophyte communities within each pond and to the spatial pattern of ponds throughout the landscape. Mantel tests were used to partial out the local versus the landscape respective influences. Snail communities became more similar in ponds that were closer together and in ponds with similar macrophyte communities as both the local and the landscape scale were important for this group of animals. Data were collected from several types of ponds, including those created on nature reserves specifically for wildlife, old field ponds (at least 150 years old) primarily created for watering livestock and subsidence ponds outside protected areas or amongst coastal dunes. No one pond type supported all the species. Larger, deeper ponds on nature reserves had the highest numbers of species within individual ponds but shallow, temporary sites on farm land supported a distinct temporary water fauna. The conservation of pond snails in this region requires a diversity of pond types rather than one idealised type and ponds scattered throughout the area at a variety of sites, not just concentrated on nature reserves.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-187
JournalHydrobiologia
Volume632
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009

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