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Special Areas of Conservation

3170 Mediterranean temporary ponds

Freshwater habitats

Description and ecological characteristics

Mediterranean temporary ponds consist of winter-flooded areas, which dry out to give vegetation rich in annuals; many of these are nationally rare species of southern European distribution, which are principally confined to this habitat type, for example pygmy rush Juncus pygmaeus, pennyroyal Mentha pulegium and yellow centaury Cicendia filiformis. There are two main pool types: a more acid pool community of trampled and grazed areas, often found on flooded trackways, and a basic pool type on serpentine rock found only at The Lizard, Cornwall.

Distribution of SACs/SCIs/cSACs with habitat 3170 Mediterranean temporary ponds. Click image for enlarged map.

European status and distribution

This habitat mainly occurs within the Mediterranean countries.

UK status and distribution

Only one site in the UK, The Lizard, is known to contain significant areas of this habitat type with the rich assemblages of the rare and local species for which the habitat type is noted; temporary pools in the New Forest support elements of this assemblage, but are not considered to be fully characteristic of the Annex I type.

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Site accounts

  • The Lizard Cornwall and Isles of Scilly
    There are widespread examples of the serpentine variant of Mediterranean temporary ponds on the Lizard heaths. A number of rare species, including chives Allium schoenoprasum, dwarf rush Juncus capitatus and land quillwort Isoetes histrix, occur in this habitat type. The acid pool type is the main locality on the Lizard for an important assemblage of rare species, including pigmy rush Juncus pygmaeus, three-lobed crowfoot Ranunculus tripartitus and yellow centaury Cicendia filiformis. A number of these pools support important invertebrate populations, including the water beetles Graptodytes flavipes and Dryops striatellus. However, in many areas the habitat type is much reduced, as trackways that once ensured the creation of the pools have fallen into disuse.

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