A man made pond at sunset in Montgomery County, Ohio.
Stereoscopic image of a pond in Central City Park, Macon, GA, circa 1877.

A pond is an area filled with water, either natural or artificial, that is smaller than a lake.[1] Defining them to be less than 5 hectares (12 acres) in area, less than 5 meters (16 ft) deep, and with less than 30% emergent vegetation helps in distinguishing their ecology from that of lakes and wetlands.[2][3]: 460  Ponds can be created by a wide variety of natural processes (e.g. on floodplains as cutoff river channels, by glacial processes, by peatland formation, in coastal dune systems, by beavers), or they can simply be isolated depressions (such as a kettle hole, vernal pool, prairie pothole, or simply natural undulations in undrained land) filled by runoff, groundwater, or precipitation, or all three of these.[4] They can be further divided into four zones: vegetation zone, open water, bottom mud and surface film.[3]: 160–163  The size and depth of ponds often varies greatly with the time of year; many ponds are produced by spring flooding from rivers. Ponds may be freshwater or brackish in nature. 'Ponds' with saltwater, with a direct connection to the sea that maintains full salinity, would normally be regarded as part of the marine environment because they would not support fresh or brackish water organisms, so not really within the realm of freshwater science.

Ponds are usually by definition quite shallow water bodies with varying abundances of aquatic plants and animals. Depth, seasonal water level variations, nutrients fluxes, amount of light reaching the ponds, the shape, the presence of visiting large mammals, the composition of any fish communities and salinity can all affect the types of plant and animal communities present.[5] Food webs are based both on free-floating algae and upon aquatic plants. There is usually a diverse array of aquatic life, with a few examples including algae, snails, fish, beetles, water bugs, frogs, turtles, otters and muskrats. Top predators may include large fish, herons, or alligators. Since fish are a major predator upon amphibian larvae, ponds that dry up each year, thereby killing resident fish, provide important refugia for amphibian breeding.[5] Ponds that dry up completely each year are often known as vernal pools. Some ponds are produced by animal activity, including alligator holes and beaver ponds, and these add important diversity to landscapes.[5]

Ponds are frequently manmade or expanded beyond their original depths and bounds by anthropogenic causes. Apart from their role as highly biodiverse, fundamentally natural, freshwater ecosystems ponds have had, and still have, many uses, including providing water for agriculture, livestock and communities, aiding in habitat restoration, serving as breeding grounds for local and migrating species, decorative components of landscape architecture, flood control basins, general urbanization, interception basins for pollutants and sources and sinks of greenhouse gases.

  1. ^ STANLEY, E. G. (1 June 1975). "The Merriam-Webster Dictionary – The Oxford Illustrated Dictionary". Notes and Queries. 22 (6): 242–243. doi:10.1093/nq/22-6-242. ISSN 1471-6941.
  2. ^ David C. Richardson, Meredith A. Holgerson, Matthew J. Farragher, Kathryn K. Hoffman, Katelyn B. S. King, María B. Alfonso, Mikkel R. Andersen, Kendra Spence Cheruveil, Kristen A. Coleman, Mary Jade Farruggia, Rocio Luz Fernandez, Kelly L. Hondula, Gregorio A. López Moreira Mazacotte, Katherine Paul, Benjamin L. Peierls, Joseph S. Rabaey, Steven Sadro, María Laura Sánchez, Robyn L. Smyth & Jon N. Sweetman (2022). "A functional definition to distinguish ponds from lakes and wetlands". Scientific Reports. 12 (1): 10472. Bibcode:2022NatSR..1210472R. doi:10.1038/s41598-022-14569-0. PMC 9213426. PMID 35729265.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b Clegg, J. (1986). Observer's Book of Pond Life. Frederick Warne, London
  4. ^ Clegg, John, 1909-1998. (1986). The new observer's book of pond life (4th ed.). Harmondsworth: Frederick Warne. ISBN 0-7232-3338-1. OCLC 15197655.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ a b c Keddy, Paul A. (2010). Wetland ecology : principles and conservation (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-139-22365-2. OCLC 801405617.

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