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SBI Guidelines: Ponds and Lakes

Ponds

Ponds (up to 2ha in size) are surveyed using the PSYM methodology[1] (Predictive SYstem for Multmetrics) which is a standard survey technique developed by Pond Conservation (2002)[2].

Using the PSYM method involves the following steps:

  1. Simple environmental data are gathered for each waterbody from map or field evidence (area, grid reference, geology, etc.).
  2. Biological surveys of the plant and animal communities are undertaken and net samples are processed.
  3. The biological and environmental data are entered into the PSYM computer programme which:
    1. uses the environmental data to predict which plants and animals should be present in the water body if it is un-degraded,
    2. takes the real plant and animal lists and calculates a number of metrics.

Finally the program compares the predicted plant and animal metrics with the real survey metrics to see how similar they are (i.e. how near the water body currently is to its ideal/un-degraded state). The metric scores are then combined to provide a single value which summarises the overall ecological quality of the water body. The similarity of the surveyed pond metric to an ideal pond metric is expressed as a percentage known as the PSYM category. A copy of the PSYM survey form can be found at the back of this document in Appendix 5.

Pond grading

Sites of Biological Importance

  • Any pond of high ecological quality: ponds classified in the top PSYM category for ecological quality, scoring ≥76%
  • Any site which supports more than three species of amphibian or supports a good population of Great Crested Newts (Triturus cristatus) (More than 5 netted in the day or more than 10 counted at night).
  • BAS sites consisting of three or more water bodies within 250m of each other are elevated to SBI status.

Biodiversity Alert Site

  • Any pond of moderate ecological quality: ponds classified in the second PSYM category for ecological quality, scoring 51-75%
  • Any site which supports three species of amphibian or a low population of Great Crested Newts (Triturus cristatus) (between 1 and 5 netted in the day or between 1 and 10 counted at night).
  • Low scoring sites (against PSYM) with more than three water bodies within 250m of each other are elevated to BAS status.

References

  1. Freshwater Habitats Trust: http://www.freshwaterhabitats.org.uk/projects/surveys/nps-psym-methods/psym-method/
  2. Pond Action [now Ponds Conservation Trust: Policy & Research (PCTPR)] (2002) A guide to monitoring the ecological quality of ponds and canals using PSYM Oxford Brookes University available from http://www.freshwaterhabitats.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/NPMN_PSYM_MANUAL_July09.pdf
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Version 6.01 (December 2017) Copyright © Staffordshire Wildlife Sites Partnership, 2019 Last Updated: 14/12/2017