A review of dystrophic lake and pool habitat in Europe: An Irish perspective

Journal: Journal of Nature Conservation

Year: 2022

Freshwater lakes and pools contained within peatlands are unique habitats that support rare and specialised species. Despite this, these ecosystems have been overlooked in conservation and management practices. One of these habitats, ‘3160 Natural dystrophic lakes and ponds’, is protected under the European Union (EU) Habitats Directive with a concerning proportion of these habitats having an “unfavourable-bad” or an “unfavourable-inadequate” conservation status across Europe. Our current understanding of the key physico-chemical and ecological features of this habitat is inadequate which is hindering the implementation of effective conservation measures.

This review summarises the current knowledge of this protected lake habitat as defined under the EU Habitats Directive. With a focus on Ireland, we demonstrate how the current monitoring and assessment methods used to characterise and assess the structure and function and conservation status of this habitat, which relies largely on the use of macrophyte community composition and surrogate physico-chemical data collected under the EU Water Framework Directive, is ineffective.

We propose the incorporation of further or alternative ecological metrics including, but not limited to, algae and macroinvertebrates which are needed to improve our understanding of the structure and function of this priority lake habitat. In addition, application of such data via ecological metrics would allow for the quantification of biodiversity and species rarity metrics which would aid in identifying sites of conservation importance.