Temporary ponds (also called vernal pools, ephemeral or seasonal ponds, woodland pools) are abundant across the landscape. These ponds hold water for part of the year and provide critical habitat for a variety of species, such as amphibians and invertebrates, that cannot tolerate permanent water bodies (mainly due to predators such as fish).
Unfortunately, these small temporary ponds are relatively easy to destroy. As such, ponds are often filled in for human development or agriculture. To minimize the loss of ponds on the landscape, new ponds can be created as mitigation. But a key question remains: do created ponds function as well as natural ones?
Mary Beth Kolozsvary (Siena College) and Meredith Holgerson (Yale University, visiting PhD student in the Strecker Lab) addressed this question in a study published last month in Wetlands. They compared seven seven-year-old created ponds to six reference ponds in New England. They found that created ponds were smaller in size, received more sunlight, had greater amounts of cattail and Phragmites, and were less likely to dry. The macroinvertebrate communities starkly differed, and created pools had fewer focal pool-breeding amphibians (spotted salamander and wood frog). Overall, they concluded that the ability of created pools to mimic the physical conditions and ecological functions of natural temporary pools was suspect.