Zooplankton richness in farm ponds of Andalusia (southern Spain). A comparison with natural wetlands
This study shows the results of an extensive survey carried out in spring 2007 on 120 farm ponds in Andalusia (South of Spain).
Pond use was diverse, but the most common uses were irrigation of vast areas of land and livestock watering. Zooplankton showed an unexpected richness in these previously unstudied water bodies which lie on private properties. A total of 103 taxa were identied (62 rotifera, 27 cladocera, 8 copepoda and 6 ostracoda).
When results are compared with an extensive survey carried out at the same time in the protected wetlands of Andalusia, we found that there are many species exclusive to both the farm ponds and the protected wetlands. This suggests high complementary between articial and natural aquatic habitats, which highlight the role of farm ponds in biodiversity conservation.
Furthermore, our results showed that farm ponds with natural substrate have a higher diversity and species richness of zooplankton than those with articial substrate. Farm ponds and other farming-related ecosystems are becoming important in both ecological and management studies, because they are increasing in landscapes all over the world. This study is part of a wider project to investigate the environmental improvement of small articial water bodies in Andalusia and results will be used to promote a more useful management policy for existing and future farm ponds in this region.
Keywords: Farm ponds, zooplankton, management, substrate, landscape.