Part of the UoRPMN‘s (University of Reading Phenological Monitoring Network) aim is to record as many phenological events as possible that occur on the campus. One area which has sparked great interest among project students over the last year has been the aquatic organisms found on campus.
Last year saw the first survey season for three of the ponds found within the wider campus: the Harris Garden, Experimental Grounds and Student Village. A whole range of aquatic organisms were recorded, including: newts, water boatman, biting midges and even some blood sucking leeches.
This summer, surveying has been reduced to two of the ponds on a weekly basis by two project students (in the Harris Garden and Experimental Grounds). The main areas of interest are newts and Odonata species found within the ponds, with the aim of recording phenological data for these species, such as time of emergence, rate of growth and development.
Kick nets samples are used to collect organisms, one from the surface and one from the pond floor. These are then carefully sorted through and any organisms found recorded. For the organisms of interest (Odonata larvae and newts) length and development stage (for newts) is also recorded. Recording will be carried out throughout the summer and into the early autumn.
The long term aim of recording these pond organisms is to observe if there are any changes in the timing of events over several years; for example are adult dragonflies emerging earlier. If changes in timing are observed then it will be necessary to consider the cause of these changes, as well any potential implications, such as trophic mismatch.