Habitat account - Freshwater habitats

3170 Mediterranean temporary ponds  * Priority feature

Background to selection

Distribution of SACs/SCIs/cSACs with habitat 3170 Mediterranean temporary ponds.  Click image for enlarged map.
Distribution of SACs/SCIs/cSACs with habitat 3170 Mediterranean temporary ponds. Click image for enlarged map.

Description and ecological characteristics


Mediterranean temporary ponds consist of winter-flooded areas, which dry out to give vegetation rich in annuals; many of these are nationally rare species of southern European distribution, which are principally confined to this habitat type, for example pygmy rush Juncus pygmaeus, pennyroyal Mentha pulegium and yellow centaury Cicendia filiformis. There are two main pool types: a more acid pool community of trampled and grazed areas, often found on flooded trackways, and a basic pool type on serpentine rock found only at The Lizard, Cornwall.

European status and distribution



This habitat mainly occurs within the Mediterranean countries.

UK status and distribution Click to view UK distribution of this habitat


Only one site in the UK, The Lizard, is known to contain significant areas of this habitat type with the rich assemblages of the rare and local species for which the habitat type is noted; temporary pools in the New Forest support elements of this assemblage, but are not considered to be fully characteristic of the Annex I type.

Site selection rationale


The single UK site where fully characteristic examples of Mediterranean temporary ponds are known to occur has been selected.

Site accounts

The Lizard Cornwall and Isles of Scilly
There are widespread examples of the serpentine variant of Mediterranean temporary ponds on the Lizard heaths. A number of rare species, including chives Allium schoenoprasum, dwarf rush Juncus capitatus and land quillwort Isoetes histrix, occur in this habitat type. The acid pool type is the main locality on the Lizard for an important assemblage of rare species, including pigmy rush Juncus pygmaeus, three-lobed crowfoot Ranunculus tripartitus and yellow centaury Cicendia filiformis. A number of these pools support important invertebrate populations, including the water beetles Graptodytes flavipes and Dryops striatellus. However, in many areas the habitat type is much reduced, as trackways that once ensured the creation of the pools have fallen into disuse.

SACs/SCIs/cSACs where this Annex I habitat is a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection

Not applicable.

Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.