Wildlife Trust Derbyshire Wildlife Trust
East Mill, Bridge Foot, Belper, Derbyshire, DE56 1XH
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Markeaton Mill Pond

Markeaton Mill Pond

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust
East Mill
DE56 1XH
A report for the Wild About Ponds Project
Prepared by Trevor Taylor
Local Wildlife Sites Officer (Planning)
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

June 2011

Protecting Wildlife for the future

Regisered charity no. 222212
DWT is a company registered in England and Wales
with the Company Number 715675

Markeaton Mill Pond


Derbyshire Wildlife Trust was commissioned to survey the pond located to the south of the A38 road in Derby as part of the Wild About Ponds Project in order to provide management recommendations based upon the findings of the survey. It would also enable a comparison of survey results against data obtained as part of the 2004/5 Derby City Pond Survey.

Map 1 shows the location of the pond. The pond is located adjacent to an area of public open space to the south of the A38 trunk road with a surfaced footpath running alongside the western side of the pond leading southward to Markeaton Street. A small area of broadleaved woodland with a canopy comprised of mature Willow and Alder is present to the north whilst the site is bounded to the east by Sturgess Field, an area of grassland owned by the University of Derby. A number of scattered mature Willows and Hybrid-Poplars occur around the banks. Access to the eastern bank of the pond is restricted by the presence of 1.8m high security fencing although access is still gained on occasions by anglers. A concessionary footpath runs from the south of the pond along the southern boundary of Sturgess Field.

The pond is owned by Derby City Council and forms part of the Markeaton Brook System Local Wildlife Site DE003, designated partly for its invertebrate (white-clawed crayfish) assemblage and water vole population.

The site falls within the area covered by The Friends Of Markeaton Brook who hold events such as pond dipping, bat and moth nights etc and carry out management tasks including litter picking and balsam pulling.

The pond is shown on Ordnance Survey First Edition maps dated 1882 and would therefore appear to be of some local historic interest.

Survey objectives

The aim of the survey was to gather ecological information using the PSYM methodology in order to determine the current overall ecological quality of the ponds.


The survey followed the standard survey methodology known as PSYM developed by Pond Action (now Pond Conservation) and the Environment Agency. PSYM, the Predictive System for Multimetrics, (pronounced sim) was developed to provide a standard method for assessing the biological qualities of still waters in England and Wales.

The method uses a number of aquatic plant and invertebrate measures (known as metrics) which are combined together and fed into a computer model, along with basic environmental and location data, to obtain a single value which represents the water body’s overall quality status.

The following information was gathered for the pond:

Calculating the pond metrics

The data collected from the surveys are used to calculate three plant metrics and three invertebrate metrics.

1. Number of submerged and emergent plant species

This is simply the number of submerged plant species plus the number of emergent plant species. The calculation does not include the number of floating-leaved species present. This is because the pond data suggest that the number of floating-leaved plants occurring at a site does not decline significantly with increasing degradation. The metric is therefore improved by omitting this plant group.

2. Trophic Ranking Score (TRS)

TRS is a measure of the average trophic rank for the pond. This is calculated by assigning each plant species with a trophic score based on its affinity to waters of a particular nutrient status. The trophic scores vary between 2.5 (dystrophic, i.e. very nutrient poor conditions) and eutrophic, i.e. nutrient rich conditions).

Unfortunately, not all plants have trophic scores. This situation has arisen because the current TRS values for standing waters (Palmer et al., 1992) are based only on analysis of lake data, and many plant species which are common in ponds occurred at too low a frequency in lakes to give them a score. Also, some plant species exhibit little nutrient preference.

The TRS value for a site is calculated as follows:

  1. The trophic scores from each plant species present at the site are summed together.
  2. The summed score is divided by the total number of plant species which have a trophic ranking score to give the TRS.
3. Uncommon Species Index

Uncommon species are those which have a rarity score of 2 or more. The number of these species is simply summed to give the number of uncommon species.

Uncommon species refers to species which can be best described as "local", "nationally scarce" or "Red Data Book". The rarity status values for Scarce and Red Data Book species are based on existing definitions derived from the Red data Books and other authorities. The definition of "local" has been used to define species which are not uniformly common and widespread in Britain: with plants this refers specifically to species recorded from between 100 and 700 10 x 10 km squares in England, Wales and Scotland.

4. Average Score per Taxon (ASPT)

The ASPT is calculated by summing the BMWP scores for all taxa present at the site and dividing by the total number of BMWP taxa present.

BMWP (Biological Monitoring Working Party) scores are assigned to taxa depending on their known tolerance to organic pollution, a higher score indicating lower tolerance. The scores were defined by Maitland in 1977.

5. Number of dragonfly and alderfly families.

This metric is the sum of the number of dragonfly (Odonata) and alderfly (Megaloptera) families.

6. Number of beetle families

This metric is the sum of the number of beetle (Coleoptera) families present at the site. The metric has a relationship with bank quality as well as water quality.


The pond was surveyed using the PSYM methodology enabling an assessment of its biological quality to be made together with a comparison with other ponds in the area.

The PSYM scores are placed in four categories that reflect the ecological quality of the pond:

0-25% is very poor, 26-50% is poor, 51-75% is fair, and 76-100% is good

Markeaton Mill Pond

Site and sample details

Grid reference: SK 33856 37109

Site Name: Markeaton Mill Pond

Location: Markeaton Derby

Owner/site access details: Derby City Council

Survey Date: 7th July 2011Surveyors: Trevor Taylor (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust)

Environmental Data

Altitude: (m)56m aslpH:7.85
Shade: % pond overhung:7% % emergent plant cover10%
Inflow (absent = 0, present = 1):1Pond area (m2)3484m2
% of pond margin grazed:0

Pond base: categories into one of three groups; 1=0%-32%, 2=33%-66%, 3=67%-100%)

Clay/silt:3Sand, gravel, cobbles:1Bed rock:1

Emergent plants Rarity Score Trophic Ranking Score
Angelica sylvestris, Wild Angelica1-
Apium nodiflorum, Fool’s Watercress110
Carex pendula, Pendulous Sedge1-
Epilobium hirsutum, Great Willowherb1-
Eupatorium cannabinum, Hemp-agrimony1-
Filipendula ulmaria, Meadowsweet1-
Glyceria maxima, Reed Sweet-grass110
Iris pseudoacorus, Yellow Iris1-
Lycopus europaeus, Gipsywort1-
Mentha aquatica, Water Mint17.3
Myosotis scorpioides, Water Forget-me-not19
Oenanthe crocata, Hemlock Water-dropwort1-
Petasites hybridus, Butterbur1-
Ranunculus ficaria, Lesser Celandine1-
Ranunculus sceleratus, Celery-leaved Buttercup110
Scrophularia auriculata, Water Figwort1-
Solanum dulcamara, Bittersweet110
Sparganium erectum,Branched Bur-reed18.5
Veronica beccabunga, Brooklime110
Floating leaved plants
Lemna minor, Common Duckweed1>9
Submerged plants
Callitriche platycarpa, Various-leaved Water-starwort2-

Number of emergent and submerged species – 20
Number of uncommon species (with a rarity score of 2 or more) – 1

Trophic Ranking Score - 9.31

Group 2 taxa (BMWP:8)
Aeshnidae (Dragonfly, Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea)
Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis))

Group 4 (BMWP:6)
Gammaridae – Crustacean (Shrimp)
Coenagriidae – Damselfly

Group 5 taxa (BMWP: 5)
Planariidae – Flatworm
Gerridae – Water bug (Water skater)
Nepidae – Water bug (Water scorpion and Water Stick Insect)
Notonectidae – Water bug (Greater water boatman)
Pleidae – Water bug (Lesser Water boatman)
Corixidae – Water bug (Water boatman)
Dytiscidae – Water beetle (Diving) Hyphydrus ovatus)

Group 6 taxa (BMWP: 4)
Baetidae – Mayfly
Piscicolidae - Leech

Group 7 taxa (BMWP: 3)
Hydrobiidae - Snail
Planorbidae – Ramshorn Snail
Sphaeridae – Pea Mussel
Glossiphoniidae - Leech
Asellidae – Crustacean (Water slater)
Group 8 taxa (BMWP: 2)
Chironomidae – Fly (Non biting midge)

Group 9 taxa (BMWP: 1)
Oligochaetae – True Worm

Total No. Of taxa19
Total BMWP Score81
No. OM taxa2
No. Coleopt taxa1

Index of Biotic Integrity (PSYM Score %) = 56. As such the pond would be considered to be in fair ecological condition.

This represents a slight decline in the ecological condition of the pond since 2005 when a survey undertaken as part of the Derby City Pond Survey returned a PSYM score of 67%.

A conductivity test to measure of the total quantity of chemicals dissolved in the water returned a reading of 520 µS/cm. This figure indicates that the pond exhibits a small degree of contamination. Where conductivity is 500-1000 + µS/cm this is usually a sign of some kind of pollution and a perfectly clean water pond would have a figure of 100µS/cm or less.

Survey Results

Although a slight decline in the overall ecological condition of the pond over the past seven years was identified, the pond continues to support a reasonable diversity of aquatic plant, macroinvertebrate and amphibian species.

A band of emergent vegetation approximately 3-4 metres wide, consisting largely of Reed Sweet-grass, Glyceria maxima, forms a fringe to the margins of the pond within which Fool’s Watercrees, Apium nodiflorum, and Water Mint, Mentha aquatica, are frequent along with occasional Wild Angelica, Angelica sylvestris and Gipsywort, Lycopus europaeus.

Branched Bur-reed, Sparganium erectum, Brooklime, Veronica beccabunga, Yellow Iris, Iris pseudoacorus, Pendulous Sedge, Carex pendula, Hemp Agrimony, Eupatorium cannabinum, Hemlock Water-dropwort, Oenanthe crocata, and Water Figwort, Schrophularia auriculata all occur in limited quantity.

Hemlock Water-dropwort

Right: Hemlock Water-dropwort,
Oenanthe crocata

A very small amount of Various-leaved Water-starwort, Callitriche platycarpa, was noted in a section of the margin of the western bank.

During 2006-2007 a number of bankside trees were either removed or pollarded on health and safety grounds. This work has noticeably reduced the amount of shade affecting the pond and has undoubtedly played a part in encouraging the development of emergent marginal vegetation which has become dominated by Reed Sweet-grass. It is possible that the dominance of Reed Sweet-grass has resulted in the loss of the uncommon aquatic plant species Nodding Bur-marigold, Bidens cernua, and Narrow-fruited Water-cress, Nasturtium microphyllum, which were both recorded in very small quantity in the margins of the eastern bank during the 2005 survey.

It was also noted that the angling activity is now concentrated largely along the western bank as opposed to the situation in 2005 when most angling took place on the eastern bank with the resultant clearance of marginal vegetation to create fishing swims. It was within these cleared areas that the Nodding Bur-marigold and Narrow-fruited Water-cress had become established.

The pond supports a well-established and diverse fish population comprising pike, tench, roach, bream, carp, rudd, perch and gudgeon and, as such, is well-used by anglers on an informal basis. Unfortunately, the angling activities result in significant accumulations of litter around the site, concentrated largely at the fishing swims.

The pond is a well-established valuable amphibian breeding site and supports good numbers of Common Toad, a UK BAP priority species, along with Smooth Newt and Common Frog.

The entire Markeaton Brook system is known to support White-clawed Crayfish and it was noted that observations of this species in the pond were made by anglers during the

2004-5 Derby City Pond Survey. No recent records for white clawed crayfish directly associated with the pond are available but it is likely that they are still present within the pond. A survey carried out by Peter Cowley from the University of Derby recorded the presence of White-clawed crayfish from the Markeaton Brook at Sturgess Field during 2012.

The site provides ideal habitat for bats with good numbers of Common and Soprano Pipistrelle bats observed foraging over the pond and around the bankside trees during organised bat walks during 2011 and 2012. Bat boxes have been erected on the trees around the pond.

Water vole were formerly recorded from the site but there are no recent records and a dedicated survey for water vole as part of the Derby City Pond Survey in 2004/5 found no evidence of water vole. Occasional sightings of Brown Rat are made.

Small numbers of Mallard and Moorhen are regularly observed at the site.

Management Recommendations

Markeaton Mill Pond

Markeaton Mill Pond 2004

Markeaton Mill Pond

Markeaton Mill Pond 2011

Markeaton Mill Map