Stormwater retention ponds are typically constructed to manage stormwater in commercial and residential areas, thereby reducing flooding and erosion and improving downstream water quality. Although auxiliary ecosystem services of stormwater ponds are less often recognized, these small aquatic ecosystems may also serve as habitat for aquatic flora and fauna and can be hotspots for biogeochemical cycling. This study examined the biological communities and physicochemical environment of 9 stormwater ponds in Rochester, New York, USA to assess their role in supporting biodiversity and facilitating carbon and nutrient cycling in developed landscapes. A field study revealed that pond age and vegetation cover were important facilitators of benthic macroinvertebrate diversity. The most dominant and abundant taxa were tolerant of low oxygen and high salinity environments including Oligochaeta, Chironomidae and pulmonate snails. These benthic organisms are also important bioturbating infauna that may influence biogeochemistry at the sediment-water interface. In a laboratory microcosm experiment, Chironomus sp. and Lumbriculus variegatus, were both found to increase oxygen consumption and inorganic nitrogen fluxes in stormwater sediments through excretion, respiration and bioturbation. Benthic macroinvertebrates in stormwater ponds enhance decomposition of organic material and nutrient recycling, ultimately influencing water quality in stormwater ponds. Thus, stormwater ponds typically recognized as structures for flood control provide important secondary benefits and act as hotspots for diversity and nutrient cycling in developed landscapes.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Aquatic invertebrates--Ecology; Urban runoff--Management; Nutrient cycles

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Environmental Science (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences (COS)


Anna Christina Tyler

Advisor/Committee Member

Elizabeth N. Hane

Advisor/Committee Member

Corey Ptak


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at QL365.365 .K86 2015


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