What are they?

Bassa plana Temporary ponds are ecosystems typical of the Mediterranean climate. They are called 'temporary' because they alternately undergo wet periods (when the pond is flooded) and dry periods, according to the seasons of the year. This dynamic is nothing more than a consequence of the great seasonal differences that occur in the Mediterranean climate, warm and rainy in winter, hot and dry in summer. This contrast means that the species that live in such ecosystems must adapt in order to survive. As a result, they are inhabited by rare species with unique behaviours, for which reason temporary ponds are considered singular ecosystems. They are rare, fragile, exclusive habitats, always small in size, which is why the 'Habitats Directive' considers them priority natural habitats in order to favour their conservation.

Generally speaking, they are small depressions in impermeable terrain, created by natural soil erosion. Temporary ponds can be found in different shapes and sizes, but one peculiar characteristic is that they are always rather shallow, usually no more than 1-2 metres deep. Nonetheless, organisms of extraordinary interest are found in these tiny ecosystems. However, the importance of these ponds does not reside only in their ecological peculiarities; they have always been of great usefulness to human beings, as well as delighting the view, for these are veritable bursts of surprising colour amid arid landscapes. In their enormous diversity, they help to shape surprising, unexpected landscapes, presenting an appearance that varies with the changing seasons.