A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE shows that the amount of water in a pond is largely dependent on the plants that are present.
The study analyzed data from more than 200 pond systems around the world, and found that plants are able to provide water in some cases but are unable to do so in others.
The researchers found that water levels in ponds are often lower than the level in rivers and lakes, but that plants can be more water efficient at absorbing water from the water table.
“These findings show that water in plants and animals is more efficient at taking up water from soil than in the environment, and it appears that this efficiency may be related to water availability,” lead author and PhD student at the University of Michigan Lisa C. Glynn said in a statement.
“The ability to water plants, rather than the water that they need, may be one of the main factors that has been linked to the success of aquatic plants and fish.”
Glynn and her colleagues conducted the study using data from nearly 100 ponds across the United States, from the Great Lakes region to the Pacific Northwest.
They found that most ponds were able to maintain water levels above the recommended levels for water use in the ecosystem.
“This was the first study to show that pond water can provide water for plants and plants can take up water, which may be the most important function of ponds,” Glynn told The Washington Post.
“It suggests that pond animals can be a major source of water for aquatic plants.”
But in some ponds, such as the ones in the Gulf of Mexico, water was still being taken up from the soil, even when plants were present.
While the water level in some pond systems was maintained, the amount lost was often lower in other systems, the researchers found.
The ponds they analyzed included some that had been used to irrigate crops and others that had not.
“Our findings suggest that pond species are capable of capturing water in the water column, and that this capture may be due to their ability to absorb and store water in soil,” the researchers wrote.
“These findings may also explain why the ability to capture water from ponds may be critical for the long-term viability of these ponds.”
The study found that the water loss in some of the ponds was more than 50 percent.
The largest loss of water occurred in the Mississippi River watershed, where the average level of water loss was about 30 percent.
In other places, the water levels were as low as 5 percent, while in others, water levels exceeded 10 percent.
It’s not clear why ponds are more water-efficient at capturing water than rivers or lakes.
Glyn said the results may help inform conservation efforts in areas where ponds are not able to take up the full amount of groundwater needed.
In the study, the scientists also found that pond-water inputs are largely independent of the species.
“We have shown that the inputs of plants to the pond are independent of plant species and water quality,” the authors wrote.