Seeing the Pond for the Reeds: Biodiversity of Rural Ponds


  • Jayci Scheff Wingate University
  • Dr. Shem Unger Wingate University
  • Dr. Erika Niland Wingate University
  • Brad Turley Carolina Wildlands Foundation at Southern 8ths Farm
  • David Harper Carolina Wildlands Foundation at Southern 8’s



Pond diversity, rural ecosystems, bioblitz, iNaturalist, biodiversity


Ponds in rural ecosystems may provide valuable habitat for a variety of cosmopolitan species, including those that are either fully aquatic or pond associated species in riparian habitats of mixed agricultural/wooded areas. We assessed the diversity of three rural ponds on private property (Southern 8’s Farm; Chesterfield, South Carolina), with different management histories using rapid species assessments. Surveys included aquatic dip-netting, sweep netting, acoustic surveys, camera trapping, and visual encounters. Identifications of organisms were performed using iNaturalist.  In total, we compiled 240 unique taxonomic observations of different taxa across all ponds, representing 165 fully identified species (68.8% of observations). This consisted of 166 animal observations (largely arthropods, with some chordates), and 70 plant observations (mostly dicot flowering plants) and only 4 fungi observations. We found that iNaturalist provided a reliable method for identification of flora and fauna pond-associated species and should be considered for bioblitz surveys and rapid biological inventories to document species presence in riparian zones of agricultural ecosystems.


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Author Biographies

Dr. Shem Unger, Wingate University

Associate Professor of Biology

Dr. Erika Niland, Wingate University

Associate Professor and Chair of the Biology Department

Brad Turley, Carolina Wildlands Foundation at Southern 8ths Farm

Operations Program Manager

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How to Cite

Scheff, J., Unger, S., Niland, E., Turley, B., & Harper, D. (2022). Seeing the Pond for the Reeds: Biodiversity of Rural Ponds. Journal of Student Research, 11(2).



Research Articles