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Chemical and Biological Assessment of Wegner Pond

Claire Cantrell

The Wegner pond is small and quiet, located on a homestead property just outside Dear,
Idaho. The pond is created by an earthen dam of a small hillside and is surrounded by a variety
of plant and animal life. Recently, agricultural practices have begun in the field adjacent to the
pond and the landowners are worried this may be causing unhealthy changes to the pond. The
field has been used for a wheat crop the last three years which poses a potential pesticide and
fertilizer runoff threat to the pond.
The University of Idaho limnology class will access the health of the pond and
surrounding ecosystem and pose suggestions to the landowner on how to best manage the pond
under changing land use conditions. Groups will be in charge of the following tasks: physical
and chemical parameters, littoral macroinvertebrates and zooplankton communities, sediment
erosion and water balance, and macrophyte biomass and restoration opportunities. All data will
be compiled for the best assessment possible and suggestions will be given to the current land
renters as well as the landowner.

Methods and Materials- Littoral Macroinvertebrates and Zooplankton Communities

Field Materials Lab Materials

Eckman Dredge and sieving bucket Microscopes
Schindler Trap Counting Dishes
Hip Waders Henson Steeple pipette (5 and 10 mL)
Boat Beakers
Sample Containers Graduated Cylinder (100 mL)
D Kick Net Metal probes

Sediment samples were collected in

triplicate using an Eckman dredge at sites 1, 2, and
3. Samples were taken just off the shore where the
water was approximately 1 meter deep. The
sediment samples collected in the Eckman were
then sieved through a bucket to remove as much of
the liquid as possible. The remaining sludge
material was transferred into a Ziploc bag for later
lab analysis.
Zooplankton samples were collected in
triplicate using a Schindler trap at sites 3 and 4.
Water samples were taken at just below the surface Figure 1. Map of Wegner pond near Deary, ID. Pins
indicate the 4 sites where samples were taken. Sites 1,
for both sites and additional samples were taken at 2, and 3 were sampled for macroinvertebrates. Sites 3
0.5 meters for site 4. The shallow nature of the and 4 were sampled for zooplankton.
pond did not allow for additional samples to be
In the lab, the sediment samples were further sieved to separate organic material from
sediment and debris. Using a microscope, each sample was inventoried for all
macroinvertebrates present. Zooplankton samples were also counted under microscope.
Following standard procedures, a sub-sample was counted and then that data could be
extrapolated to provide estimates for the entire water sample (Burnet, 2018).


Physical Pond Characteristics

Figure 2. Bathymetric map for current or low water levels in Figure 3. Bathymetric map for high water levels measured in
meters measured at Wegner pond near Deary, ID on October 3rd, meters at Wegner pond near Deary, ID on October 3rd, 2018.

Table 1. Estimated water volume, surface area, surface area floor, maximum depth, and average depth at current and high
water levels for Wegner Pond near Deary, ID. Current level was sampled on October 3, 2018 and is also assumed to be the low
water level.

Current Level High Level

Water Volume (m³) 5555.77 7928.99
Surface Area (m²) 2965.6 3991.2
Surface Area Floor (m²) 3087.32 4116.26
Maximum Depth (m) 2.5
Average Depth (m) 0.83

The maximum current water depth of Wegner pond was 2.5 meters and the average depth was
0.83 meters. At high water levels, the volume in the pond was estimated to reach 7928.99 m³ but
currently is at 5555.77 m³. Currently the surface area of the pond is estimated at 2965.6 m² but
can be as high as 3991.2 m²
Chemical Pond Characteristics

Dissolved oxygen (mg/L)
5.0 7.0 9.0 7.0 8.0 9.0 10.0
0.0 0.0
0.2 Waypoint 0.2 Waypoint
0.4 142 0.4 142
Depth (m)

Depth (m)
0.6 Waypoint 0.6 Waypoint
0.8 143 0.8 143
1.0 Waypoint 1.0 Waypoint
1.2 144 1.2 144

1.4 1.4
1.6 1.6

Figure 4. pH by depth (m) for Wegner pond, near Deary, ID sampled Figure 5. Dissolved oxygen (mg/L) by depth (m) for Wegner pond, near
on October 3rd, 2018. Deary, ID sampled on October 3rd, 2018.

Temperature (° C) Specific Conductivity (uS/cm)

10.0 15.0 20.0 10.0 60.0 110.0 160.0
0.0 0.0
0.2 0.2 Waypoint
0.4 Waypoint 0.4 142
Depth (m)

0.6 0.6 Waypoint

Depth (m)

0.8 Waypoint 0.8 143

143 1.0
1.0 Waypoint
Waypoint 1.2 144
144 1.4

Figure 6. Temperature (°C) by depth (m) of Wegner pond near Deary, Figure 7. Specific conductivity (µs/cm) by depth (m) of Wegner pond
ID sampled on October 3rd, 2018. near Deary, ID sampled on October 3rd, 2018.

Figures 4-7 show profiles created from YSI data. Waypoint 142 shows the highest variety in
characteristics and may have been due to sampling location. Due to the high variation found in
waypoint 142, the other two waypoints will be the ones considered. The pH of the pond was
consistent at 6 for both the other points and at increasing depth. Dissolved oxygen was slightly
more variable than pH but still showed consistency at 9 mg/L for both sites and with increasing
depth. Temperature was consistently measured at 12 °C for both sites and only decreased slightly
with depth with the lowest temperature being recorded at 11.32 °C. Specific conductivity also
remained consistent at both sights and with decreasing depth at about 105 µS/cm.
250 600

Total Phosphorus (µg/L)

Chlorophyll a (µg/L)
200 500
50 100
0 0
142 143 144 145 142 143 144 145
Waypoint Number Waypoint Number

Figure 8. Chlorophyll a concentrations with SE (µg/L) by waypoint Figure 9. Total phosphorus concentrations with SE (µg/L) by
of Wegner pond near Deary, ID sampled on October 3rd, 2018. waypoint of Wegner pond near Deary, ID sampled on October 3rd,

Chlorophyll a concentrations in µg/L are shown in figure 8. Waypoints, 142, 143, and 144 have
relatively low concentrations all below 50 µg/L. Waypoint 145 had a conctration almost 3 times
greater at around 150 µg/L. Figure 9 shows the water columns total phosphorus in µg/L.
Waypoints 142, 143, and 144 had similar values at just above 200 µg/L. Waypoint 145 showed
significantly higher concentrations at 512 µg/L.

Biological Pond Characteristics

Average Denisty (Individuals/L)
Average Denisty (Individuals/L)

40.0 175.0
30.0 125.0
Cladocera Cladocera
20.0 Copepods Copepods
Chaoborus 50.0 Chaoborus
0.0 0.0
0 0
Depth (m) Depth (m)
Figure 10. Graph shows the average densities (individuals/L) of Figure 11. Graph shows the average densities (individuals/L) of
Cladocera, Copepods, and Chaoborus sampled at Site 3 (0 meters) Cladocera, Copepods, and Chaoborus sampled at Site 4 (0 meters)
using a Schindler Trap at Wegner Pond, near Deary, Idaho on using a Schindler Trap at Wegner Pond, near Deary, Idaho on
October 3rd, 2018 October 3rd, 2018
150.0 300.0
Average Denisty

Density (Individual/m²)
100.0 200.0
75.0 150.0
50.0 Copepods 100.0
25.0 Chaoborus 50.0
0.0 0.0
Site 1 Site 2 Site 3
Depth (m)

Figure 12. Graph shows the average densities (individuals/L) Figure 13. Macroinvertebrate density (Individual/m²) sampled at 3 sites
of Cladocera, Copepods, and Chaoborus sampled at Site 4 with an Ekman Dredge at Wegner Pond near Deary, ID on October 3,
(0.5 meters) using a Schindler Trap at Wegner Pond, near 2018
Deary, Idaho on October 3rd, 2018

Table 2. Summary statistics for zooplankton and macroinvertebrate species present in Wegner pond near Deary, ID sampled on
October 3rd, 2018.

Zooplankton Macroinvertebrates Macroinvertebrates

(sampled with Eckman (sampled with D
dredge) Kick net)
# of species present 8 6 6
Species evenness 0.472 0.59 0.85
Shannon Diversity Index 0.92 1.05 1.52

Figures 10- 12 show zooplankton density for Cladocera, Copepods, and Chaoborus at
sites 3 and 4. All figures show an overwhelming high presence of Cladocera. At site 3, 0 meter
depth (figure 10), the average density of Cladocera was 31.33 individuals/L. Copepods and
Chaoborus both had densities less than 5 individuals/L. At site 4, both 0 meters and 0.5 meters in
depth had significantly higher densities than at site 3 (Figures 11 and 12). At 0 meters, the
density of Cladocera was 138.97 ind/L and at 0.5 meters the density was 122.44 ind/L. Copepod
densities were still significantly less at site 4 for both depths. Density for copepods at 0 meters
was 9.17 ind/L and was 11.04 ind/L for 0.5 meters.

Figure 13 shows the average calculated density of macroinvertebrates present in Eckman

dredge samples taken at sites 1-3. The lowest density was found at site 2 with a density of 170.94
ind/m². The highest density was found at site 3 with a density of 270.66 ind/m².

Both methods of sampling for macroinvertebrates yielded 6 different species. However,

the D-Kick net had a Shannon Diversity Index of 1.52 while the Eckman dredge had a Shannon
Diversity Index of 1.05. Zooplankton had an even lower index value of 0.92 even though 8
species were present in the zooplankton samples.
Number of Plots 12

Plant Species

Figure 14. Number of plots each macrophyte species was found to be present in out of the total 20 plots sampled. Data from
across all transects at the Wegner Pond site, Deary, Idaho on October 10th, 2018.

Number of Plots

1 Birm plots
Roadside plots
Fieldside plots

Plant Species

Figure 15. Species presence as counted by number of plots in which it occurred out of the total plots in each transect. Totals
were 6 plots on the berm, 8 on the road, and 6 plots on the field side transects of the Wegner Pond, Deary, Idaho on October
10th, 2018

Figures 14 and 15 show the different macrophyte species present at Wegner pond. Figure
14 shows the distribution of the species across all sites sampled while figure 15 shows the
presence of the species based on which side of the pond it was found on. Bidens cemua was the
most commonly found plant and was present in 13 plots. Quaking aspen and Crataegus
Columbiana were the least abundant species and were only found in 1 plot each. Bulrush/tule
was the only species found on all 3 sides of the pond.

The physical data collected from Wegner pond indicate that the system remains relatively
shallow and small at all water levels throughout the year. Although this pond was sampled in the
fall, it’s likely that the depth of this pond does not allow any stratification to occur at any time.
The small size of this pond also suggests that chemical properties such as dissolved oxygen, pH,
temperature, and specific conductivity all remain relatively constant at different locations
through the water body and are likely not effected by depth. This homogenous water
composition may be a limiting factor in the number of species present in the water body because
it limits the number of available niches to species.

Temperature of the pond was relatively cool on the fall day samples were taken. Air
temperature at the time samples were taken was 14.4°C while the recorded water temperature
was around 12°C. Due to the small size of the pond, it’s likely that the average water temperature
follows average air temperature to an extent. However, further sampling would need to occur to
confirm this during the warmer summer months. A better understanding of peak summer
temperatures would help the landowners know if the pond would be suitable for fish populations.

Dissolved oxygen concentrations were also relatively low for the system. This is likely
due to the start of algae die offs and an increase in respiration due to the onset of fall. No anoxic
areas of the pond were found, even at the deepest parts, but if the pond freezes over, anoxic
conditions may occur. This is another area for further testing over different seasons.

Total phosphorus (TP) and chlorophyll a estimates were fairly high, classifying the pond
system as eutrophic (Wetzel 2001). Eutrophic systems have TP values greater than 30 µg/L and
Wegner pond had TP values between 200 and 515 µg/L. These values were to be expected with
the increase in agriculture practices in the recent years. Phosphorous is a typical fertilizer used in
agriculture and the run off frequently ends up in water systems.

Cladocera overwhelmingly dominated the pond system. The highest concentrations were
estimated at 139 ind/L. The high TP values and Chlorophyll a concentrations indicate this is a
pond with high primary productivity which can support a dense zooplankton community. There
was little evidence of fish presence in the pond meaning the zooplankton have little competition.

Bulrush/tule and Carex retrorsa were commonly found around the pond. Both these
species are extremely effective at mitigating high ammounts of phosphorous inputs in a water
system. Phragmites australis is an invasive species but is also effective at mitigatin pollutants.
Other invasive species were found that may be less beneficial to the wetland system including
Melissa officinalis.

Recommendations to Land Owner

While the pond was not classified as unhealthy, some efforts could be made to improve
the overall health of the system. Many, if not all, of the groups who collaborated on this project
suggested the creation of a buffer system on the field side of the pond. While there is some
evidence of plants on the field side that an help take up phosphorous inputs, a high concentration
of TP indicates that the current plants have reached there buffering capacity. In order to reduce
eutriphication in this sytem, phosphorous inputs must be mitigated (Carpenter 2008). That
addition of more phosphorous buffering plant species could reduce the external inputs of
phosphorous into the system. Increasing the amount of plants around the pond may also help
shade the shallow water near the shores. This can help keep the water cooler in the summer and
potentially allow a high diversity of species.

Another possible sollution to increase biodiversity of macroinvertebrates, is the addition

of different substrate material to the pond. The substrate of Wegner pond was very sludgy and
their was a lack of sediment diversity. Adding pebbles, stones, or cobble to the pond may
increase the density and biodiversity of macroinvertebrates (Duan 2008). Although the diversity
and density of macroinvertebrates and zooplankton may already be able to support a small
number of warm water fishes, an increase in density and diversity would help support more in
the future.

If the owner wishes to stock fish they should be able to based on the physical, chemical,
and biological parameters outlined in this assesment. A small population of Centrarchidae could
be introduced due to adequate dissolved oxygen and temperatures. An abundant quantity of
zooplankton should allow this species to thrive. A Piscovore must also be introduced however
to make sure the Centrarchidae do not overpopulate and eat all the zooplankton.

In summary, Wegner pond is not unhealthy but it is highly eutrophic and this should be
addressed. The creation of a buffer area between the crop fields and the pond should be created.
If the owner desires fish they could add a variety of substrate to increase habitat for
macroinvertebrates. Some small warm water fishes could be introduced along with a piscovore
to control populations.

Burnet, S. 2018. FISH 415 Limnology. [Online], Available

http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/fish415/ . December 9, 2018.

Carpenter, S. (2008). Phosphorus control is critical to mitigating eutrophication. Proceedings of

the National Academy of Sciences, 105(32), 11039-11040.

Duan X., Wang, Z., & Tian, S. (2008). Effect of streambed substrate on macroinvertebrate
biodiversity. Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering in China, 2(1), 122-
128. doi:10.1007/s11783-008-0023-y

Wetzel, R.G. 2001. Limnology: lake and river ecosystems 3rd Edition. Academic Press. San
Diego, CA.