Wetlands Ecology and Management

Temporary forest pools: can we see the water for the trees?

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Courtesy of Wetlands Ecology and Management

Temporary waters, in general, are fascinating habitats in which to study the properties of species adapted to living in highly variable environments. Species display a remarkable array of strategies for dealing with the periodic loss of their primary medium that sets them apart from the inhabitants of permanent water bodies. Survival of individuals typically depends on exceptional physiological tolerance or effective migrational abilities, and communities have their own, distinctive hallmarks. This paper will broadly overview the biology of temporary ponds, but will emphasize those in temperate forests. In particular, links will be sought between aquatic community properties, the nature of the riparian vegetation, and forestry practices. Quite apart from their inherent biological interest, temporary waters are now in the limelight both from a conservation perspective, as these habitats come more into conflict with human activities, and a health-control perspective, as breeding habitats for vectors of arboviruses. Traditionally, many temporary waters, be they pools, streams or wetlands, have been considered to be ȁ8wastedȁ9 areas of land, potentially convertible to agriculture/silviculture once drained. In reality, they are natural features of the global landscape representing distinct and unique habitats for many species – some that are found nowhere else, others that reach their maximum abundance there. To be effective, conservation measures must preserve the full, hydroseral range of wetland types.

Keywords: Community succession - Forests - Freshwater invertebrates - Hydroperiod - Riparian vegetation - Temporary ponds - Wetland management

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