Small Impoundment Management in North America

Chapter 4: Biological Productivity of Small Impoundments

Robert Kröger and Craig S. Tucker


Most ponds and small impoundments are built or managed with a principal use in mind. That use may be recreational fishing, commercial aquaculture, waterfowl hunting, potable water storage, irrigation water supply, livestock watering, stormwater retention, landscaping, swimming, or others. In practice, however, nearly all ponds have multiple uses and the common feature is the importance of the biological community to the functionality and enjoyment of ponds. The type of biological community desired in ponds varies tremendously depending on intended uses, climate, local geography, and other factors. Often, the most important considerations are the personal expectations and needs of the pond’s owners or users. Even if the desired community type can be defined (for example, an intensively managed trophy largemouth bass fishery), creating and maintaining that ecosystem can be difficult because of complex interactions between the pond and its external environment, and between the many interdependent physical, chemical and biological processes within the pond.

As with most ecosystems, solar radiation serves as fuel for the pond’s internal engine, biological production. This production is initially controlled by nutrient dynamics, which are driven by anthropogenic and local abiotic and biotic inputs. Landscape positioning, land-use practices, local climate and geology, and latitude are among the factors influencing nutrient inputs to ponds. Internal regulation and availability of nutrients influence seasonal dynamics of ecosystem structure, and the pond’s biological community has direct and indirect feedbacks to the physiochemical environment. These processes can be manipulated via management to control pond productivity.