EPCN Conference 2021

25th-26th May 2021 

The 9th European Pond Conservation Network (EPCN) conference was held, virtually, over 25-25th May 2021, with the Organising Committee based in the UK at UCL, University of Stirling, Newcastle University, University of Huddersfield and the Freshwater Habitats Trust. Responding to the considerable need to conserve European ponds, the conference combined pond biology, hydrology, function and landscape ecology with pond conservation practice and welcomes both scientists and conservation practitioners to the meeting. The conference included both oral and poster presentations aimed at increasing integration of the European pond community.

The 2021 EPCN Conference was supported by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)-funded Hydroscape project which aimed to determine how stressors and connectivity interact to influence biodiversity and ecosystem function. Attendees of the EPCN conference will be given the opportunity to interact with Hydroscape team members and listen to talks about this project.  

Oral Sessions

All abstracts for the oral sessions may be found here.

Session 1: Patterns & Processes in Pondscapes

Chair: Matt Hill

Plenary speaker: Nigel Willby (University of Stirling, UK)

This session will focus on studies of pond metacommunities and and will consider the community assembly factors and processes that structure species assemblages across pond   landscapes and within pondscapes over time. The session will include both pure and applied studies and will cover a range of European settings.

Session 2: Advances in Pond Monitoring

Plenary speaker: Marlene Pätzig (Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research)

Chair: Helen Greaves (Pond Restoration Research Group, UCL, UK)

In contrast to lakes, our understanding of seasonal, inter-annual and decadal changes to pond chemistry, biology and habitat structure are poorly understood. Nevertheless, effective pond conservation relies on our understanding of the how and why of ponds change over time. This session will focus on recent advances in pond monitoring including use of eDNA, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), eco-acoustics and advanced logger systems and their potential uses in pond research and monitoring work, alongside and combination with traditional monitoring approaches. 

Session 3: Urban and Artificial Ponds

Plenary speaker: Beat Oertli (HEPIA, CH)

Chair: Richard Walton (Newcastle University, UK)

This session will gather together experiences from diverse European cities to demonstrate how urban waterbodies can contribute to biodiversity conservation, and at the same time provide multiple ecosystem services. Presentations will include cases studies, and more integrative investigations and will cover fundamental and applied research on biodiversity, hydrology and chemistry, technical aspects, social sciences and policy.

Session 4: Pond Conservation and Management

Plenary speaker: Jeremy Biggs (Freshwater Habitats Trust, UK)

Chair: Alan Law (University of Stirling, UK)

This session will focus on pond conservation science and practice including new pond creation, re-wilding, pond restoration and management and the resurrection of ghost ponds. The aim of the session is to showcase pond conservation work as it is being undertaken across a range of European situations and habitat types and to exchange science findings and ideas on best practice.

Plenary speakers

Prof. Nigel Willby, University of Stirling, UK

Twitter: @NWillby

Website: https://www.stir.ac.uk/people/255828

The scale of decline in freshwater megafauna mirrors the dwindling fortunes of freshwater taxa more generally and may indeed have precipitated our current crisis. Might resurrecting populations of megafauna therefore help to reverse the general situation, and are ponds the place to do this? I’ll discuss, using examples from beavers to cows, why mess matters, and the role of big biota in small water body dynamics.

Dr Marlene Pätzig, Post-doctoral researcher, Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research, Germany

Twitter: @MarlenePatzig

Website: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Marlene_Paetzig

High-resolution remote sensing for pond research and monitoring

Natural ponds are highly variable in space and time and can be scattered across the landscape in large numbers. High-resolution remote sensing seems to be a promising approach to perform cost and time efficient research and monitoring of these valuable ecosystems. My plenary talk will give an insight into the advantages of high-resolution remote sensing and present example applications of this.

Prof. Beat Oertli, HEPIA, CH

Twitter: @OertliBeat

Website: https://www.hesge.ch/hepia/annuaire/beat-oertli

Urban ponds and their multiple ecosystem services: is biodiversity forgotten?

The density of ponds is often high in the urban matrix. These artificial waterbodies were created for their landscape value (parks, gardens), for their potential to reduce the risk of flooding, for their capacity to purify water, for their offer of leisure activities, or for their contribution to well-being of walkers (microclimate, contact with nature). Their supply of habitats for biodiversity often takes a back seat. However, appropriate, inexpensive management would easily make it possible to increase biodiversity, for the benefit of citizens.

Dr Jeremy Biggs (Director of the Freshwater Habitats Trust, UK)

Twitter: @jeremybiggs

Website: https://freshwaterhabitats.org.uk/

How ponds can help us stop and reverse the decline of freshwater biodiversity?

Several lines of evidence suggest that ponds may have a special role to play in stopping and reversing the general decline of freshwater biodiversity. This is due to their disproportionate richness, wide distribution and ability to respond positively to management interventions. I will discuss how protecting the best ponds and creating new high quality ponds can help to reverse long-term biodiversity declines with a focus on projects led by the Freshwater Habitats Trust.