We understand that pond restoration has a dramatic effect on the species richness and biodiversity of farmland ponds and that our research has shown this to be true for aquatic plants, amphibians, fish and insects.
However, perhaps it may be possible to measure these changes in diversity by simply listening to the sounds of a pond?
PhD student, Jack Greenhalgh, is exploring just that.
Bioacoustics (the study of sounds produced by animals) has been used in ecosystems such as woodlands, coral reefs and tropical rainforests to observe the acoustic diversity emitted by the fauna present. However, freshwater ecosystems have been largely overlooked in spite of their of accessibility.
Jack’s research is therefore exploring the unknown underwater soundscapes of ponds before and after restoration. His initial research indicates that restored ponds are a cacophony of underwater life, full of biological information waiting to be deciphered.
You can find out more about Jack’s research at the University of Bristol on his webpage.
Whilst the UCL Pond Restoration Research Group and NPP volunteers are working on Pond 10 of the #BIG50 project today, we will be being supported by one intrepid adventurer who is raising money for our project and raising awareness of the huge number of ponds in the Norfolk countryside.
Below, Dr Polly Ashford, explains why she is taking on this feat of cycling over 100 miles and visiting over 50 ponds in one day…
What’s a farm pond and why should I care?
Norfolk’s ponds were originally dug as clay or marl (lime) pits, and there are thousands of them. Unfortunately many have become overgrown or filled in. Healthy farm ponds are fantastic for biodiversity, supporting a range of species from aquatic plants and invertebrates to pollinators and farmland birds.
What you are raising cash for?
Each pond takes about a day to restore (removing vegetation, sediment etc, and surveying). Much of this work is carried out by volunteers and students. I’d encourage people to support the project in any way possible, but specifically for this year’s #Big50 restoration, I’d like to raise a bit of cash to pay for special chainsaw fuel, which contains less harmful hydrocarbons than regular petrol. The exhaust fumes are much cleaner so the health risks are dramatically reduced, and it is more environmentally friendly. I’ve also got a vested interest here, as my partner Andy will be doing a lot of chainsawing!
How much is Polly going to suffer for my cash?
I will be cycling a route around Norfolk that takes in a minimum of 50 ponds in one day, which will mean approximately 100 miles. I’ll stop at each pond to photograph it as proof (@DrPollyAshford on Twitter), and to show the different sizes/shapes/states of Norfolk’s ponds. I will be very surprised if I’m on the bike for less than 12 hours, and I’ve never cycled this far in one go before, so yes, suffering is guaranteed!
Please encourage Polly not to regret this madness by pledging a bit of money on her Just Giving page.