Wildlife Trust Derbyshire Wildlife Trust
East Mill, Bridge Foot, Belper, Derbyshire, DE56 1XH
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Mickleover Meadows Ponds

Mickleover Meadows



Derbyshire Wildlife Trust
East Mill
Bridgefoot
Belper
Derbyshire
DE56 1XH
A report for the Wild About Ponds Project
Prepared by Trevor Taylor
Local Wildlife Sites Officer (Planning)
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

June 2011

Protecting Wildlife for the future

Regisered charity no. 222212
DWT is a company registered in England and Wales
with the Company Number 715675

Mickleover Meadows Ponds

Background

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust was commissioned to survey two ponds located within the Mickleover Meadows Local Nature Reserve as part of the Wild About Ponds Project in order to provide management recommendations based upon the findings of the survey. It would also enable a comparison of survey results against data obtained as part of the 2004/5 Derby City Pond Survey.

Map 1 shows the location of the ponds. The survey focused upon two ponds which are located within Mickleover Meadows which was declared as a Local Nature Reserve in July 2010. The site is also a designated Local Wildlife Site DE076 and is registered on the Derby City Wildlife Alert Map.

The site which is located on the northern fringe of Mickleover to the west of Derby is supported by a community group, the Friends of Mickleover Meadows, who organise events and carry out management activities and wildlife recording at the site.

Whilst a third pond, known as the Bridge Pond, is referred to in the Management Plan for the site prepared by James Frith dated November 2009 this is not included in the present survey as it is considered to be a widening of the open drain which crosses the site.

The two ponds within the site are distinctly different. The pond on the eastern boundary of the site, adjacent to the Murray Park Community School, is shown on Ordnance Survey First Edition maps dated 1882 and would therefore appear to be of some local historic interest. It is classed as a temporary seasonal pond, regularly drying out during the summer months and is also subject to much vandalism and abuse, requiring the regular removal of debris and litter. It is located within an area of mature trees and scrub thus creating a rather shaded environment and is fed, at times, by a small flowing drain. In contrast, the pond towards the western boundary of the site is relatively new, created in June 2009, and is located within an area of regularly close-mown grassland. It occupies a relatively open aspect apart from being bordered on its northern and western sides by unmanaged hedgerows comprised of Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Elder and Hazel. with an approximate height and width of over 4 metres. The pond was created as a clean water pond and registered as part of the Million Ponds Project. To meet the criteria as a clean water pond, it was left to colonise naturally although it is likely that a low level of aquatic plant introduction has occurred. The pond was largely created in attempt to expand the population of great crested newt which is known to be present in the pond under private ownership further to the west. The area is well-used by the public, particularly for dog walking. As a result, the pond suffers from a high level of disturbance from dogs and is more or less in a constantly turbid state. In an attempt to minimise the amount of disturbance from dogs and to enable the development of amphibian interest, the pond was enclosed within post and rail fencing in December 2011.

Survey objectives

The aim of the survey was to gather ecological information using the PSYM methodology in order to determine the current overall ecological quality of the ponds.

Methodology

The survey followed the standard survey methodology known as PSYM developed by Pond Action (now Pond Conservation) and the Environment Agency. PSYM, the Predictive System for Multimetrics, (pronounced sim) was developed to provide a standard method for assessing the biological qualities of still waters in England and Wales.

The method uses a number of aquatic plant and invertebrate measures (known as metrics) which are combined together and fed into a computer model, along with basic environmental and location data, to obtain a single value which represents the water body’s overall quality status.

The following information was gathered for the pond:









Calculating the pond metrics

The data collected from the surveys are used to calculate three plant metrics and three invertebrate metrics.

1. Number of submerged and emergent plant species

This is simply the number of submerged plant species plus the number of emergent plant species. The calculation does not include the number of floating-leaved species present. This is because the pond data suggest that the number of floating-leaved plants occurring at a site does not decline significantly with increasing degradation. The metric is therefore improved by omitting this plant group.

2. Trophic Ranking Score (TRS)

TRS is a measure of the average trophic rank for the pond. This is calculated by assigning each plant species with a trophic score based on its affinity to waters of a particular nutrient status. The trophic scores vary between 2.5 (dystrophic, i.e. very nutrient poor conditions) and eutrophic, i.e. nutrient rich conditions).

Unfortunately, not all plants have trophic scores. This situation has arisen because the current TRS values for standing waters (Palmer et al., 1992) are based only on analysis of lake data, and many plant species which are common in ponds occurred at too low a frequency in lakes to give them a score. Also, some plant species exhibit little nutrient preference.

The TRS value for a site is calculated as follows:

  1. The trophic scores from each plant species present at the site are summed together.
  2. The summed score is divided by the total number of plant species which have a trophic ranking score to give the TRS.
3. Uncommon Species Index

Uncommon species are those which have a rarity score of 2 or more. The number of these species is simply summed to give the number of uncommon species.

Uncommon species refers to species which can be best described as "local", "nationally scarce" or "Red Data Book". The rarity status values for Scarce and Red Data Book species are based on existing definitions derived from the Red data Books and other authorities. The definition of "local" has been used to define species which are not uniformly common and widespread in Britain: with plants this refers specifically to species recorded from between 100 and 700 10 x 10 km squares in England, Wales and Scotland.






4. Average Score per Taxon (ASPT)

The ASPT is calculated by summing the BMWP scores for all taxa present at the site and dividing by the total number of BMWP taxa present.

BMWP (Biological Monitoring Working Party) scores are assigned to taxa depending on their known tolerance to organic pollution, a higher score indicating lower tolerance. The scores were defined by Maitland in 1977.

5. Number of dragonfly and alderfly families.

This metric is the sum of the number of dragonfly (Odonata) and alderfly (Megaloptera) families.

6. Number of beetle families

This metric is the sum of the number of beetle (Coleoptera) families present at the site. The metric has a relationship with bank quality as well as water quality.

Results

The pond was surveyed using the PSYM methodology enabling an assessment of its biological quality to be made together with a comparison with other ponds in the area.

The PSYM scores are placed in four categories that reflect the ecological quality of the pond:

0-25% is very poor, 26-50% is poor, 51-75% is fair, and 76-100% is good

New Pond

Site and sample details

Grid reference: SK 31334 35854

Site Name: Mickleover Meadows New Pond

Location: Mickleover Meadows Local Nature Reserve

Owner/site access details: Derby City Council

Survey Date: 30th June 2011Surveyors: Trevor Taylor (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust)

Environmental Data

Altitude: (m)92m aslpH:8.53
Shade: % pond overhung:0%% emergent plant cover1%
Inflow (absent = 0, present = 1):0Pond area (m2)109m2
% of pond margin grazed:0

Pond base: categories into one of three groups; 1=0%-32%, 2=33%-66%, 3=67%-100%)

Clay/silt:3Sand, gravel, cobbles:1Bed rock:1
Peat1Other1

Emergent plants Rarity Score Trophic Ranking Score
 
Alopecurus geniculatus, Marsh Foxtail1-
Epilobium hirsutum, Great Willowherb 1 -
Juncus articulatus, Jointed Rush 1 -
Juncus conglomeratus, Conglomerate Rush 1 -
Juncus effusus, Soft rush1-
Juncus inflexus, Hard Rush1-
 
Floating Leaved Plants
 
Lemna minor, Common Duckweed19
Nymphoides peltata, Fringed Water-lily (Int)1-
 
Submerged plants
 
Callitriche platycarpa, Various-leaved Water-starwort2-
Potamogeton crispus, Curled Pondweed 110

Number of emergent and submerged species - 8
Number of uncommon species (with a rarity score of 2 or more) - 1

Trophic Ranking Score - 9.50







Macroinvertebrates

Group 5 taxa (BMWP:5)
Gerridae - Water bug (Water skater)
Notonectidae - Water bug (Greater Water Boatman)
Corixidae - Water bug (Water boatman)
Hygrobiidae - Water beetle (screech beetle)

Group 7 taxa (BMWP:3)
Hydrobiidae - Snail (Jenkins spire shell)
Physidae - Snail

Group 8 taxa (BMWP:2)
Chironomidae - Fly (Non biting midge)

Group 9 taxa (BMWP:1)
Oligochaetae - True Worm

Total No. Of taxa8
Total BMWP Score29
ASPT3.6
No. OM taxa0
No. Coleopt taxa1

Index of Biotic Integrity (PSYM Score %) = 39. As such the pond would be considered to be in poor ecological condition.







Mickleover Meadows
Mickleover Meadows

Survey Results

The pond is a relatively new pond created in June 2009 as a clean water pond and in order to meet the criteria as a clean water pond as part of the Million Ponds Project it had to be left to colonise naturally with no deliberate introduction of aquatic plants. These early stages of newly created ponds can be very important for certain invertebrate and plant species before any competition arises as a result of colonisation by more aggressive species. It also enables monitoring of the colonisation process to take place. Unfortunately, since the creation of the pond it has been subject to a high level of disturbance, especially from dogs. This level of disturbance would have significantly affected the colonisation and development of the pond, particularly in respect of amphibians and plant species.

In December 2011, a post and rail fence was erected around the pond by BTCV in an attempt to prevent undue disturbance from dogs entering the water. As well as preventing access by dogs, the erection of the fencing will also allow the grassland habitat surrounding the pond to be removed from the regular mowing regime thus establishing a buffer zone around the pond and creating a habitat of greater benefit to amphibians and invertebrates.


Mickleover Meadows
Mickleover Meadows

During the survey visit it was noted that several rush species had begun to colonise the pond margins along with a small quantity of Marsh Foxtail, Alopecurus geniculatus. Submerged plant species included Various-leaved Water Starwort, Callitriche platycarpa, and Curled Pondweed, Potamogeton crispus while a small amount of Fringed Water-lily, Nymphoides peltata, was present at the western end of the pond.

Two clumps of frog spawn were recorded in the pond at the end of March 2011 and a few smooth newt larvae were caught during pond dipping sessions in June 2011. The pond was considered to be too turbid to undertake torchlight amphibian surveys and it was thought unlikely that a significant newt population would have become established considering the amount of disturbance endured.

Six small clumps of frog spawn were recorded in the pond on 7th March 2012. A small quantity of the non-native invasive aquatic plant Curly Waterweed, Lagarosiphon major, was recorded in the pond at the beginning of 2012

A conductivity test to measure the total quantity of chemicals dissolved in the water returned a reading of 320 µS/cm. This figure indicates that the pond is reasonably clean and free from pollution. Where conductivity is 500-1000 + µS/cm this is usually a sign of some kind of pollution and a perfectly clean water pond would have a figure of 100µS/cm or less.

Recommendations

Annual PSYM surveys should be undertaken during the period June to August to monitor the colonisation and ecological condition of the pond, particularly now that the pond is enclosed within post and rail fencing. The results of the surveys should be forwarded to Derby City Pond Wardens Association and the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. Any amphibian records should be sent to the Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group.

Particular attention should be paid to monitoring the spread of Fringed Water-lily. Once the species becomes established it can spread at a rather rapid rate, particularly in small ponds, and could quickly dominate the site, thus out-competing other less aggressive species which could potentially colonise the pond.

The small quantity of the non-native Curly Waterweed should be removed from the pond during the autumn/winter period to avoid any impact upon breeding amphibians and invertebrates. The pond should be regularly monitored for the presence of non-native species.

The grassland habitat surrounding the pond within the fenced area should be monitored to inform an appropriate management regime. The establishment of a taller rough grassland sward would potentially be of benefit to amphibians and invertebrates and consideration should be given to either leaving the area unmanaged or strimming on an occasional basis, probably on a three year cycle.

School Pond

Site and sample details

Grid reference: SK 31559 35851

Site Name: Mickleover Meadows School Pond

Location: Milk Meadows Local Nature Reserve

Owner/site access details: Derby City Council

Survey Date: 30th June 2011Surveyors: Trevor Taylor (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust)

During the site visit undertaken on 30th June 2011 the pond was totally dry and, as such, it was not possible to undertake a PSYM survey. A survey of aquatic plants was undertaken upon which it was possible to make management recommendations.

The PSYM survey details for the site visit undertaken as part of the 2004/5 Derby City Pond Survey are reproduced below:

Environmental Data

Altitude: (m)106m aslpH:7.1
Shade: % pond overhung:12%% emergent plant cover35%
Inflow (absent = 0, present = 1):0Pond area (m2)264m2
% of pond margin grazed:0

Pond base: categories into one of three groups; 1=0%-32%, 2=33%-66%, 3=67%-100%)

Clay/silt:3 Sand, gravel, cobbles:1Bed rock:1
Peat1Other1

Emergent plants Rarity Score Trophic Ranking Score
 
Apium nodiflorum, Fool’s Watercress110
Caltha palustris, Marsh Marigold 1 7
Carex otrubae, False-fox Sedge 1
Epilobium hirsutum, Great Willowherb 1 -
Filipendula ulmaria, Meadowsweet 1
Glyceria fluitans, Floating Sweet-grass1-
Juncus effusus, Soft Rush1-
Lycopus europaeus, Gipsywort1-
Ranunculus sceleratus, Celery-leaved Buttercup110
Scrophularia auriculata, Water Figwort1
Solanum dulcamara, Bittersweet1-
Veronica beccabunga, Brooklime110
 
Floating Leaved Plants
 
Lemna minor, Common Duckweed19
 
Submerged plants
 
Callitriche platycarpa, Various-leaved Water-starwort2-

Number of emergent and submerged species - 13
Number of uncommon species (with a rarity score of 2 or more) - 1

Trophic Ranking Score - 9.33


Macroinvertebrates

Group 5 taxa (BMWP:5)
Hydrophillidae - Water beetle (scavenger beetle)

Group 7 taxa (BMWP:3)
Asellidae - Water slater

Total No. Of taxa2
Total BMWP Score8
ASPT4
No. OM taxa0
No. Coleopt taxa1

Index of Biotic Integrity (PSYM Score %) = 50. As such the pond would be considered to be in poor ecological condition although it has to be recognised that it is at the very upper limit of the category. Although the pond was found to be dry at the time of the 2011 survey visit it was noted that the pond still supports the good range of aquatic plant species as recorded during the 2005 survey.

Survey Results

The pond is of some historic interest and is shown on the First Edition Ordnance Survey Maps dating from 1882. Unfortunately, the site has been subject to much abuse and dumping of rubbish over the years. During a site visit in 2004, the pond was found to be very over shaded by mature trees and much dumping of rubbish and litter, including pallets, was evident.

Micleover Meadows

Amphibian surveys undertaken in April 2004 recorded Smooth Newt and Common Frog. In March 2011 good quantities of frog spawn were present but there was no evidence of smooth newt.

In the ensuing years, regular clearance of rubbish from the pond has been carried out by the local Friends Of Mickleover Meadows and some overhanging tree branches were removed by Derby City Council to minimise shade.

Although the pond was found to be dry at the time of the current survey visit it was noted that the pond still supports the good range of aquatic plant species as recorded during the 2005 survey. The maintenance of a good range of aquatic plant species will have been assisted by the reduction in shade. A noticeable feature of the aquatic vegetation is the reasonably-sized population of Various-leaved Water-starwort, Callitriche Platycarpa.

Amphibian surveys undertaken in April 2004 recorded Smooth Newt and Common Frog. In March 2011 good quantities of frogspawn were present but there was no evidence of smooth newt.

Twelve clumps of frog spawn were recorded in the pond on 7th March 2012.

A conductivity test to measure of the total quantity of chemicals dissolved in the water undertaken in March 2011 returned a reading of 740 µS/cm indicating that the water was somewhat polluted. It is likely that this is as a result of some form of contamination entering the pond by way of the drain. Where conductivity is 500-1000 + µS/cm this is usually a sign of some kind of pollution and a perfectly clean water pond would have a figure of 100µS/cm or less.

Recommendations

Whilst it is accepted that the pond is seasonal in nature and that the spring and summer seasons of 2012 were exceptionally dry it is likely that the pond has become extremely shallow as a result of silt deposition from the brook and the accumulation of leaf litter and woody debris. It is therefore recommended that some attempt to deepen some areas of the pond should be considered. Such work should be carried out at the end of summer/early autumn, taking care to avoid any populations of aquatic plants. If necessary, samples of the plants should be removed and stored until they can be re-planted on completion of the work. Some areas of the pond base should be extended to a depth of 75cm and then lined with bentonite powder to ensure water retention before covering over with a thin layer of the excavated material to give a natural looking end result

Continue to remove any discarded rubbish on an annual basis as necessary during the autumn or winter periods to avoid disturbance to breeding amphibians.

If water levels allow, annual PSYM surveys should be carried out during the period June to August to monitor the ecological condition of the pond. The results of the surveys should be forwarded to Derby City Pond Wardens Association and the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.

The pond should be monitored for amphibian use on an annual basis between March and June with all records sent to the Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group.




Mickleover Meadows Map