Ephemeral Ponds

Ephemeral ponds* are isolated wetland depressions occurring in communities such as sandhill, natural pinelands, dry prairies, and other related habitats. They may be forested ponds such as a cypress dome or contain herbaceous, emergent vegetation. In terms of hydrology, these ponds or pools fill seasonally and dry up annually or every few years and do not have continuous surface-water connections with permanently flooded systems. Since ephemeral ponds are found within a larger community type, management for those communities should be compatible with management for ephemeral ponds.

Biologically, these ponds typically lack predatory fish species, which is a crucial component for successful breeding of at least 23 amphibian species. Many of these pond-breeding amphibians require the adjacent uplands and nearby ponds for foraging, burrowing, and dispersal. Juveniles may travel 1000 -2000 feet from the ponds into the uplands and will return to their natal pond as an adult to breed. In addition to the importance of amphibians, these ponds also provide foraging habitat for amphibians, birds, invertebrates, and small mammals.

The greatest threats to these systems stem from habitat loss, development, upland habitat fragmentation and degradation, fire suppression, ditching, and industrial pine plantation operations. The Coastal Plains Institute has prepared best management strategies and an overview of this ecosystem. However, management for other communities where these ponds occur may be combined.

General Habitat Management Techniques*

 

*Disclaimer: This ecosystem is not identified in existing vegetation classification systems; however, it may be identified as an ecosystem within other community types such as sandhill or pine flatwoods.