Compositional and functional consequences of environmental change in Belgian farmland ponds.

L. Verbeek (Corresponding author), M. Vanhamel (Corresponding author), E. van den Berg, F.T.T. Hanashiro, Andros T. Gianuca, Maren Striebel, Pieter Lemmens, S.A.J. Declerck, Helmut Hillebrand, Luc De Meester

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

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A resampling of 38 small farmland ponds in Belgium after 10 years revealed a high temporal species turnover for both phytoplankton and zooplankton communities, associated with substantial changes in abiotic factors, especially a reduction in total phosphorus concentration.
Across ponds, phytoplankton biomass decreased while evenness and richness increased between the samplings in 2003 and 2013. By contrast, the zooplankton assemblage was characterised by lower biomass, richness and evenness in 2013. Ponds experiencing larger environmental change showed stronger changes in phytoplankton richness and evenness.
Resource use efficiency (RUE) of zooplankton increased with greater environmental change and zooplankton evenness, which points to a switch towards species with higher RUE or greater variety in food sources in higher trophic levels.
As ponds are important habitats for freshwater biodiversity and ecosystems services, the strong but predictable species turnover and the opposing effects of environmental change on different trophic levels need to be embedded in conservation and management plans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-596
JournalFreshwater Biology
Issue number6
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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