In the Mediterranean, temporary marshes and pools are still numerous but declining.
They are called “temporary” because they are subject to annual periods of dry-up, as well as to large inter-annual hydrological fluctuations. They may be natural or created by humans for domestic, livestock or seasonal agriculture purposes. Their biodiversity is noteworthy, especially for plants, invertebrates and amphibians. These species are well adapted to these fluctuating environments. Actually, periods of drying-up are necessary, as they play a key role in the ecological functioning of these ecosystems. In EU Mediterranean countries, these pools are designated as “Priority habitats” under the Habitats Directive, and they host as well a number of species listed in the Annexes II and IV of this Directive, such as Marsilea strigosa (a rare aquatic fern), the Crested Newt Triturus cristatus and the Marbled Newt Triturus marmoratus.
Due to change of traditional rural livelihood and agriculture practices towards intensification, these pools, often small, dispersed and covered with water only for part of the year, have often been abandoned and neglected by man. Several were therefore degraded or destroyed while some are currently rehabilitated or created in agro-pastoral areas of south Mediterranean. At the central and decision-making level, they are usually ignored and then neglected regarding land-use, agriculture or hydrology.
In the north of the Mediterranean basin, they are often threatened by the abandonment of traditional grazing which used to keep them open, whereas in the south overgrazing negatively affects their flora and the soil structure.