The aim of this study was to test the effectiveness of crustaceans in the identification of different pond types, including ‘Mediterranean Temporary Ponds’ (sensu ‘Habitats’ Directive) and ponds characterised by a range of hydroperiods. Thus, we performed a limnological study in the Alta Murgia National Park (central Apulia), conducting a three-year monitoring programme in 19 ponds, both temporary and permanent. Occurrence data for macrophytes and quantitative samples of crustaceans were collected contemporaneously with measures of water variables and environmental features. Based on macrophyte assessment, half of the studied waterbodies were found to include Mediterranean Temporary Pond priority habitats, and the possible relationships with the crustacean assemblages were analysed. All ponds were grouped into three different classes depending on their hydroperiod. Data analysis revealed that (i) there was a significant relationship between the distribution of crustaceans and macrophytes; (ii) crustacean richness was highest in ponds belonging to the shortest hydroperiod class considered and (iii) the different hydroperiod classes were associated with specific crustacean assemblages. This study indicates that crustaceans—in addition to macrophytes—can be used as an effective tool for the identification of different pond types.
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