New Forest Catchment Partnership

Case study: triops

Rare ‘living fossils’ choose New Forest pond as their home.

They’re older than dinosaurs, breathe through their feet and can lie dormant for decades.

The New Forest National Park is of vital importance to the survival of triops – a rare species of small crustaceans also known as tadpole shrimps.

(Video courtesy of John Cuthbert)

Living in only two places in the UK (the other being Caerlaverock Wetland Centre in Dumfries, Scotland), these bizarre creatures can be found in just one of the New Forest’s estimated 1,000 ponds.  The Forest’s wet and warm autumns provide the perfect hatching conditions in temporary ponds which disappear and reappear with changes in weather.

Pre-dating the dinosaurs by millions of years, these prehistoric crustaceans are one of the oldest species in the world, having been around for 360 million years. The eggs are resistant to drying out and dying, and are sometimes called living fossils as they can survive incredibly high temperatures and can still be viable after 27 years.

Tadpole shrimp John Cuthbert The Forest’s ponds form a significant part of its freshwater habitats, which host nationally rare freshwater plants and invertebrates, making the Forest one of the most important freshwater areas in Europe.

But with factors such as non-native species, pollution and climate change threatening species of UK importance found within the Forest’s ponds, it is essential to raise awareness of how vital these freshwater habitats are.

The New Forest National Park Authority has partnered with the Freshwater Habitats Trust and set up the ‘Living Waters’ project as part of its Heritage Lottery funded Landscape Partnership Scheme, Our Past, Our Future, to protect these essential freshwater habitats.

It will:

  • improve water quality by decreasing the nutrient level and engage over 50 volunteers in monitoring water quality
  • create a minimum of two new ponds achieving Priority Pond status. Priority Ponds meet certain criteria such as being of high conservation importance or having exceptional populations or numbers of key species
  • work with landowners to create new ponds and manage existing ponds more effectively for priority species.

Find out more about how we're caring for our freshwater environment through the Our Past, Our Future Landscape Partnership Scheme.

Image courtesy of John Cuthbert.

  1. River catchment project
  2. About New Forest rivers and streams
  3. Helping our rivers and streams
  4. About New Forest Ponds
  5. Water Quality – phosphates
  6. Case study: Lymington
  7. Case study: triops (you are here)
  8. Contact us


image-fade-right image-fade-left