Artificial reservoirs complement natural ponds to improve pondscape resilience in conservation corridors in a biodiversity hotspot
CITATION: Deacon, C., Samways, M. J. & Pryke, J. S. 2018. Artificial reservoirs complement natural ponds to improve pondscape resilience in conservation corridors in a biodiversity hotspot. PLoS ONE, 13(9):e0204148, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0204148.
The original publication is available at https://journals.plos.org/plosone
Natural ponds are rich in biodiversity, contributing greatly to regional aquatic biodiversity. Artificial reservoirs used for irrigation can be significant additional features of the landscape. They infill the local natural pondscape, and are attractors for aquatic insects. Here, we determine the extent to which artificial reservoirs represent the local natural pond biota, and how they contribute to the pondscape in conservation corridors used to mitigate the impact of plantation forestry in a global biodiversity hotspot. We did this by: 1) identifying the environmental factors, including plants, that drive dragonfly, water beetle, and water bug species richness, diversity and composition, and 2) determining the value of natural ponds vs. artificial reservoirs for maintaining the population size and expanding the area of occupancy for dragonflies, beetles and bugs in conservation corridors. While vegetation cover was central for maintaining species richness and composition of the assemblages in general, many other environmental variables are necessary to encourage the full suite of local diversity. Artificial reservoirs are attractive habitats to many species, overall increasing area of occupancy for 75% of them (ranging from 62–84% for different taxa). These reservoirs provide complementary alternative habitats to natural ponds, leading to improved ecological resilience across the pondscape. We conclude that maintaining a diverse and heterogeneous pondscape is important for conserving local aquatic insect diversity, and that artificial reservoirs increase the local area of occupancy for a range of pond insects in conservation corridors, and improve the biodiversity value of these pondscapes.