EUROPONDS will investigate:
a) the taxonomy and biomass (‘biodiversity’)
b) the energy content and dietary quality, as measured by total lipids and their fatty acids (‘nutritional value for consumers’) of emerging insects from ponds across Europe.
EUROPONDS will test the hypotheses that:
the biodiversity and nutritional value of emerging insects will be higher in ponds with lower trophic status, yet the biomass of insects will be higher in ponds with higher trophic status.
There are thousands of ponds across Europe, from Lapland to the Mediterranean islands and from remote rural areas to densely populated cities. These small waterbodies provide habitats for animals like aquatic insects or amphibians and shelter even rare species which depend on these systems (Williams et al., 2004). Ponds also contribute to habitat connectivity and enable organisms to cross the landscape in their function as “blue stepping stones” (Ruggiero et al., 2008; EU Habitats Directive). In times of progressing fragmentation of the landscape and increasing urbanization it will become more and more important to come up with sustainable solutions to restore degraded ponds and to build new ones, which can benefit both the landscape, diversity and us humans.
Many insects depend on ponds where they pass their larval phase - upon emergence from those ponds they act as a vector of dietary energy and provide essential nutrients for terrestrial and avian consumers, such as bats, birds, spiders or lizards.
However, while we know that even the smallest water bodies are of importance, we still understand far too little about the extent of the ecological role of ponds.
The questions we ask within EUROPONDS are, for example, how the trophic status of ponds affects the biodiversity and energy content of emerging insects? How different are ponds from drastically different regions, e.g., cities vs. remote areas, in supporting insect biodiversity?
All participants of EUROPONDS will measure the same parameters, following established protocols:
1. Trophic state of ponds will be assessed by chlorophyll-a measurements. Physicochemical parameters (turbidity, conductivity, temperature, oxygen, Secchi depth) will be recorded at every sampling event when possible;
2. Taxonomy of insects: using emergence traps for adult insects and pond-netting of benthic invertebrates, the taxonomical composition and biomass of those communities will be assessed;
3. Nutritional value of emerged insects will be determined as total lipids and their fatty acids analyzed in selected laboratories;
This project will provide unprecedented insights into the species richness of ponds as providers of dietary energy and shed light on these frequently underestimated waterbodies which are ubiquitous.
Spring to Summer 2020: formation of EUROPONDS team members Summer
2020: team assembly – pond selection – building emergence traps – preparation
Autumn 2020: first sampling – pond netting and emergence trap: 1 week; Chl-a measurements; pond parameter recording; species identification;
Winter 2020: second sampling for those ponds that do not freeze; identification; FA analysis
Spring 2021: third sampling; identification; FA analysis
Summer 2021: fourth sampling; identification; FA analysis Starting with data analysis (teams will be combined); preparation of data for conferences, workshops, presentations; preparation for publication of results; conference attendance.
25th to 30th July, 2021; Special Session at SEFS12
Along 2021: workshop with Simon Vitecek at Wasser Cluster Lunz on insect identification;
Autumn 2021 – Spring 2022: Data analysis
Summer2022: project will be finished; publications