Diversity and Distribution of Microphytes and Macrophytes in Artificial Irrigation Ponds in a Semi-Arid Mediterranean Region (SE Spain)

Document Type : Original Research Paper


División Botánica. Departamento de Biología Aplicada. Universidad Miguel Hernández. Avenida Universidad, s/n. 03202 Elche, Alicante, Spain


The seasonal diversity and distribution of microphytes and macrophytes in 40 artificial irrigation
ponds constructed in a semi-arid region, and the most suitable conditions to maintain these enclaves as
biodiversity spots were studied for the first time. A total of 104 species were detected. Bacillariophyta,
cyanobacteria and chlorophyta dominated both pelagic and benthic microphytic communities, with dinophyta
and euglenophyta also comprising a large part of the pelagic assemblages. Artificial ponds were built with lowdensity polyethylene (LDP) covered with stones and sand and were also constructed with other plastic
materials, such as PVC or high-density polyethylene (HDP), with no natural cover. Regression tests were used to analyze the relationship between plant species diversity (Shannon index H’) and physic-chemical pond water parameters. The test showed that the species diversity from the ponds was significantly correlated with pond’s type. LDP ponds contained a significantly wider range of microphytes and macrophytes species, in summer than in winter, than HDP. These artificial irrigation ponds have led to the creation of new water habitats for plant diversity conservation within semi-arid areas.