Sara Martins

Sara Martins

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Sara Martins

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Start Year

2014 (Cohort 1)

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PhD Project
PhD Title

Ecohydrology of temporary ponds: implications for conservation

Research Theme

Biodiversity and Ecology

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Secondary Supervisor
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This PhD aims to improve scientific knowledge of temporary ponds by taking a holistic approach towards understanding the dynamics of hydrological and ecological interactions in these freshwater ecosystems, at the landscape scale. Despite their unique ecohydrology and vulnerability to habitat degradation, until recently temporary ponds were the least studied freshwater ecosystem type in Europe, though research on their ecology has increased during the last decade. They contain species rarely found elsewhere, which are highly exposed to human and climate change pressure. Temporary ponds have been recognised as priority habitats for conservation in Europe, however in Northern Africa ponds are not covered by any conservation status or protection (like the Habitats Directive), despite the fact that they are extremely used by local population are therefore faced with numerous pressures. Consequently, it is crucial that we understand the factors that threaten their ecological function and integrity, if they are to survive. We plan to determine the influence of hydrology on the aquatic vegetation and zooplankton communities of temporary ponds in NW Ireland, SW Portugal and NW Morocco, in order to assess their current conservation status, the scale and nature of disturbances impacting them and to inform conservation programmes for their long-term protection.

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