Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2011 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Biodiversity in Urban Stormwater Ponds
Brundrett, Katherine
Co-Authors: Charles Wahl, Christopher Swan

Abstract: The complex urban landscape is hypothesized to mediate both the local and regional factors that influence both species diversity and compositional turnover of ecological communities. Furthermore, how people manage habitat features in the built environment imposes spatial variation in local ecological conditions. Stormwater detention ponds are now known to function not only to retain stormwater runoff, but to also harbor highly structured plant and animal communities. In this survey of 33 stormwater ponds, we sought to explain local diversity and compositional turnover in zooplankton communities. We quantified regional effects using the distance-decay approach commonly employed in biogeography, and local effects by relating community similarity to ecological similarity among ponds. What is novel about this survey is that we compare these relationships between commercial, residential, and recreational ponds, as each represent different dimensions to human valuation of these built features. We found that residential ponds supported the highest regional diversity, driven by the highest local diversity, followed by commercial ponds. The latter was driven by nearly equal contributions of local diversity and compositional turnover among ponds. Interestingly, ponds clearly used for recreational purposes supported the lowest regional diversity, driven by very lower inter-pond turnover. We hypothesize that this is due to very consistent pond management techniques, homogenizing local conditions across ponds. The results from this survey suggest how human activity generates biodiversity at multiple scales in the built environment.