2006: Benthic Communities in Stormwater Retention Basins in Williamsburg, VA

Emma Wear (Biology) Illinois Wesleyan University

Stormwater retention ponds are an increasingly common urban aquatic habitat, yet little is known about the communities they support. In addition, the mechanisms by which many aquatic organisms colonize new habitats are unknown, limiting our ability to make inferences based on organisms' natural history. The primary goal of this study was to document the planktonic and macrobenthic communities in retention ponds in Williamsburg, Virginia. A secondary goal was to examine the relationship between pond age and community complexity.

Communities were sampled and characterized in 14 retention ponds, as well as in two older, reference bodies of water, Lake Matoaka and Crim Dell. Plankton samples displayed a great deal of variation, ranging from 83 to 13520 organisms per liter. Taxa richness ranged from 6 to 12 taxa present per sample and was not correlated with pond age. Benthic communities also varied, with samples numbering between 30 and 268 organisms, and taxa richness ranging from 8 to 25 taxa per sample. Neither taxa richness, Shannon Diversity Index values, nonflighted taxa richness, nor percent nonflighted taxa were correlated with pond age. Presence/absence of fish also did not correlate with numbers or diversity. Water quality as described by the Hilsenoff Family-level Biotic Index was low but variable among ponds; this suggests that variation in water quality may be an important factor in controlling benthic communities.

For additional documentation Emma Wear provided a PowerPoint Presentation entitled "Benthic Communities in Stormwater Retention Basins in Williamsburg, VA"  provided here in PDF form.