Buried alive: Aquatic plants survive in ‘ghost ponds’ under agricultural fields

  • Published source details Alderton E., Sayer C.D., Davies R., Lambert S.J. & Axmacher J.C. (2017) Buried alive: Aquatic plants survive in ‘ghost ponds’ under agricultural fields. Biological Conservation, 212, 105-110.


Action: Excavate pools/ponds

A replicated study in 2013–2014 of three re-excavated ponds in farmland in Norfolk, UK (Alderton et al. 2017) reported that they were colonized by aquatic macrophytes within 40 weeks. Of the 15 macrophyte taxa with seeds or spores in the historical pond sediment, 12 appeared in at least one re-excavated pond. These species included a rush Juncus sp., stoneworts Chara spp., floating-leaf pondweed Potamogeton natans and water crowfoot Ranunculus aquatilis. Additional germination tests suggest that at least some of this vegetation grew from the buried seeds or spores (see original paper). Methods: In autumn 2013, three former ponds (buried under farmland for 45–150 years) were re-excavated to their previous size and shape. So, historical pond sediments were present at the bottom of each re-excavated pond. The ponds were left to fill naturally with water. Macrophytes were surveyed in each pond for up to 40 weeks after excavation.

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