Habitat and biodiversity of On-Farm Water Storages: A Case Study in Southeast Queensland, Australia
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On-farm water storage's (locally known as farm dams or farm ponds) are an important part of many agricultural landscapes as they provide a reliable source of water for irrigation and stock. Although these waterbodies are artificially constructed and morphologically simple, there is increasing interest in their potential role as habitat for native flora and fauna. In this paper, we present results from a case study which examined the habitat characteristics (such as water physical and chemical parameters, benthic metabolism, and macrophyte cover) and the macrophyte and macroinvertebrate biodiversity of eight farm ponds on four properties in the Stanley Catchment, Southeast Queensland, Australia. Each landowner was interviewed to allow a comparison of the management of the ponds with measured habitat and biodiversity characteristics, and to understand landowners' motivations in making farm pond management decisions. The physical and chemical water characteristics of the study ponds were comparable to the limited number of Australian farm ponds described in published literature. Littoral zones supported forty-five macroinvertebrate families, with most belonging to the orders Hemiptera, Coleoptera, Odonata and Diptera. Invertebrate community composition was strongly influenced by littoral zone macrophyte structure, with significant differences between ponds with high macrophyte cover compared to those with bare littoral zones. The importance of littoral zone macrophytes was also suggested by a significant positive relationship between invertebrate taxonomic richness and macrophyte cover. The landowners in this study demonstrated sound ecological knowledge of their farm ponds, but many had not previously acknowledged them as having high habitat value for native flora and fauna. If managed for aquatic organisms as well as reliable water sources, these artificial habitats may help to maintain regional biodiversity, particularly given the large number of farm ponds across the landscape.
Copyright 2008 Springer. The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.