Introduction to pond ecosystems

What is a pond?

A pond is…

… a small body of water which  doesn’t have running water            

… shallow

… somewhere that different species of  animals and plants as their home, like birds and amphibians.

… formed by rainwater or underground springs


Both plants and animals have to be present in the pond to make it a balanced echo system.

What is a pond's ...


A ponds ecosystem is made up of both living non-living organisms these organisms depend on each other to survive.

What is in a pond's ecosystem?

Pond life

Ponds are busy places!

Pond food chains

Food webs

Scientists have found evidence that bats have existed for 50 million years.  Some scientists believe it may have been even longer.

Pond food chain

A food chain shows you how each creatures gets their food. The producer provides the basic source of food which is algae which other organisms like snails eat, then consumers like a bird eats the snail.

A food web

This includes all of the connections between producers and consumers in an ecosystem.

Pond dipping

Pond dipping

Watch the Essex Wildlife Trust pond dipping video above.

Pond dipping is fun and educational!

Plant life

Aquatic pond plants

Floating plants: White Water Lily, Yellow Water Lily, Broad Leaved Pond Weed, Amphibious Bistort, Water Crowfoot

Free-floating plants: Water Soldier

Submerged oxygenating plants: Water Starwort, Hornwort, Water Milfoil, Purple loosestrife

Marginal plants: Flowering rush, Water Forget-Me-Not, Water Mint, Brooklime, Marsh Marigold, Water Plantain, Yellow Flag Iris

Marsh plants: Suffolk Herbs, Water Avens, Curled Pondweed

Above, left to right: Marsh marigold, Yellow flag iris, White water lilies, wild mint.

Some plants are invasive


Avoid Duckweed, Azola, Floating Pennywort, Lesser Spearwort and Greater Reedmace as they are all invasive.

Invasive species!

Plant life

Good pond plants and trees

Above, left to right: Purple loosestrife, Sedges, Reeds (phragmites), Willow (goat willow), Silver birch in open grassland and on the banks. 

Wildfowl and Waterfowl

Protected species

Great crested newts

Great crested newts are fully protected under UK and European legislation: Wildlife & Countryside Act (as Amended) 1981. 

These laws make it an offence to:

Intentionally kill, injure or capture or take  great crested newts

Deliberately take or destroy eggs of great crested newts (Regs)

Possess or control a live or dead great crested newt or any part or thing derived from them

Intentionally or damage, destroy, or obstruct access to, any structure or place which great crested newts use for shelter or protection

Intentionally or recklessly disturb great crested newts while occupying a structure or place which it uses for that purpose

Sell, offer or expose for sale, or possess or transport for the purpose of sale, any live or dead great crested newt or any part or thing derived from them.

Damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place.

keep, or transport, or exchange great crested newts or any part or thing derived from them.

Grass snakes

Protected species

Grass Snakes are found throughout England and Wales but are absent from Scotland. They’re quite often seen in gardens, especially those with ponds which the snakes can hunt in. Grass Snakes are quite timid, often feigning death if disturbed; alternatively they may excrete a foul-smelling liquid. They are our longest native snake and can reach 150cm.

Non-venomous.  Very good swimmers and may hunt in the water: often live around fresh water such as lakes, ponds or reservoirs. Also found in gardens, especially those with ponds or compost heaps. Feed on amphibians, small mammals, fish and birds.  Search for prey using sight and sense of smell.

Grass snakes are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. They are a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework, meaning that they cannot be deliberately killed, injured or traded in any way.

From frogs to foxes

Other species also use ponds

Above, left to right: Water vole, Badger, Urban fox, Bats, Frogs, Toads and Newts.

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