Under the surface

Water beetles and bugs can tell us a lot about the ponds and streams on our reserves

When you pass a pond or stream, you may see a whirligig beetle circling, or a pond skater darting about on the surface film. Under the surface is an entire world of animals that are rarely seen. Many of us will have been pond dipping at school, but this may be the last glimpse of this world that we had

We have been surveying water beetles and bugs on our reserves for the past 6 years. A team of dedicated volunteers have visited over 23 reserves and recorded over 8000 specimens. Many of these are national rarities, including 21 Nationally Scarce and 6 IUCN Near Threatened species.

The aim of these surveys was to use the species present in the samples as an indicator of the ecological quality of waterbodies on reserves. Water beetles and bugs were chosen because their ecology, status and distribution are well understood; therefore, they are excellent indicators of habitat quality.

Water beetles in particular are the most diverse group of invertebrates found in ditch and pond environments. Large sites of high quality may support over 50 species, and a sample of a rich ditch or pond taken in spring can have over 20 species.

The attached reports interpret the data from our monitoring and makes suggestions for management of waterbodies.

Volunteers conducting a water beetle survey