Limnetica, Vol. 1, Núm. 29 (2010)

The pond biodiversity index “IBEM”: a new tool for the rapid assessment of biodiversity in ponds from Switzerland. Part 2. Method description and examples of application

Nicola Indermuehle, Sandrine Angelibert, Veronique Rosset, Beat Oertli


Ponds are now widely recognized to contribute significantly to regional freshwater biodiversity. Therefore, tools to easily and rapidly assess biological quality specifically for these aquatic habitats have been increasingly requested by conservation planners and nature managers. In close association with practitioners, we developed such a method for Switzerland; the pond biodiversity index “IBEM”. The IBEM-Index is based on the assessment of the taxonomic richness of 5 groups: aquatic vegetation, Gastropoda, Coleoptera, adult Odonata and Amphibia. No abundance data are necessary and genus level identification is required for all groups except Amphibia (species level). The sampling methodology is a stratified random strategy and allows the use of richness estimators to transform the observed taxonomic richness (Sobs) into true taxonomic richness (Strue). As the IBEM assessment follows the methodology presented in the Water Framework Directive, it is based on the calculation of the ratio of true taxonomic richness (Strue) to reference-based predicted richness (Sref). Each of the five taxonomic groups is assessed separately and the overall biological quality of any given pond (i.e. the IBEM-Index) is the average of the five ratios. This score is later converted into one of five quality classes for each pond: bad (0 to 0.2), poor (> 0.2 to 0.4), moderate (> 0.4 to 0.6), good (>0.6 to 0.8), and high (> 0.8 to 1). In this paper, the implementation of the IBEM-Index is described in detail. The sampling methodologies are developed (for the biodiversity and the environmental variables) as well as the assessment methodology. Finally, two examples are presented in detail, for a “good” quality pond and for a “bad” quality pond. The method implementation also includes a website ( which allows the online calculation of the index, and provides support for both sampling and assessment methodologies to users. The IBEM-Index is a rapid assessment method which gives an overall value of pond biodiversity in terms of taxa richness and can be used, for example, in regional screenings or site monitoring in Switzerland. Moreover, as biodiversity is generally recognized as a good indicator of global ecological quality, the IBEM-Index can also be used to investigate ecosystem quality.

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