Restoration of Mediterranean temporary ponds in Portugal: Challenges and opportunities

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Carla Pinto-Cruz

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Mediterranean Temporary Ponds (MTP) are habitats of major conservation importance in Europe due to their extensive decline in area and quality. Our work was part of the LIFE Charcos project*, directed to implement restoration actions to preserve this habitat on the Southwest Coast of Portugal. These ecosystems are strongly dependent on rainfall and annually experience a flood / dissection cycle. The exclusive fauna and flora that colonize MTP are specialized to exist with this alternation of ecological conditions. Restoration of typical MTP ecology presents major challenges and opportunities. The recovery of the basin’s topographic profile is challenging and has to be carried out considering specifically the special characteristics of the MTP hydroperiod. The annual species and those with dormancy mechanisms are more resilient and exhibit higher recovery rates. The annual dynamics of the ecosystem present a great opportunity to monitor restoration success and consequently adjust recovery actions on an annual basis. We carried out physical replacement of pond basin topography, invasive vegetation control, and plant community enhancement. The restoration results are positive with reinforcement of the spatial differentiation of the floristic communities and increase of characteristic and indicator plant species. Regarding the control of invasive species (Acacia spp. and Carpobrotus edulis), the results are encouraging, since the removal of the vegetal mass allowed the germination of the small annual species characteristic of the MTP. * This work was co-funded by European Union LIFE+ programme

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Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration