More ponds for turtles and amphibians
Increasing freshwater habitats in La Selva (Catalonia)
Freshwater habitats in La Selva, Northeastern Catalonia, are suffering severe degradation, due to urban sprawl, direct destruction, pollution, fragmentation, water flow decrease, and the proliferation of exotic species.
This region, though, still maintains Catalonia’s best populations of European Pond Turtle (Emys orbicularis). This turtle lives in lowland ponds, marshes, and slow rivers, preferring clean waters and abundant riparian plants.
Our objective is the recovery of freshwater habitats, in order to help the populations of the European Pond Turtle (Emys orbicularis), as well as the Western Spadefoot Toad (Pelobates cultripes), whose populations have suffered a great decline in the past decades. This project aims to benefit amphibians and freshwater organisms in general, such as dragonflies and water plants.
Andrena has provided funding and technical support to La Sorellona Association, which has excavated a new temporary pond, and will restore tallgrass meadows, both important habitats for these species. Moreover, Can Rufí pond, a heavily degraded pond, has been restored. This pond was in very bad condition, with turbid waters and algal blooms, caused by a severe invasion by Eastern mosquitofish and exotic tortoises. The pond has been emptied and partially dredged, and invasive turtles and fishes have been removed.
This pond is slowly improving its ecological processes; water transparency has increased, dragonflies are breeding in it successfully, and one of our objective species, the Western Spadefoot Toad, has already bred in it this spring.
La Sorellona aims to strengthen the regional metapopulations of the European Pond Turtle and the Western Spadefoot, contributing to the creation of wildlife corridors that connect habitats.
The introduction of fishes in naturally fishless freshwater ecosystems, may cause serious damaging effects. Transparent, macrophyte-rich waters can become green and turbid, due to the increase in phytoplankton and algal blooms, causing a loss in biodiversity. An excessive number of domestic ducks, especially if they are artificially fed, can also harm water quality in ponds.
In order to protect the ecological quality of our ponds, it is very important to avoid the introduction of domestic and exotic animals.
La Sorellona is an association born in Girona el 2013, which works designing and organizing environmental education activities, being its main goal teaching about nature and wildlife. They organize nature camps for kids and teens, environmental volunteering, and science communication, specializing in riverine habitats.