Cascade of ponds

near Jakubov

Cascade of ponds
near Jakubov
Three ponds are hidden in the Doupovské Mountains near Karlovy Vary amongst flowering meadows and beech forests. They lie below Jakubov Hill, each on a different level of its slope and within walkable distance from one another.

The site is known mostly to locals from the surrounding area, and so it’s quiet and undisturbed. It has escaped development mainly because of its location on the border of the largest military base in the Czech Republic, making it a place where endangered plant and animal species thrive and a potential refuge for many more.
cascade of ponds
In addition to the three bodies of water, the land we manage also includes a mixed deciduous forest, low scrubland, and meadows bordered by old walls and remnants of stone drifts, several springs, and an unnamed tributary of the Ohře River with a beautifully preserved stream floodplain with a diverse range of plants.
7.1 hectares
1 lake
1 wetland
1 pond with cottage
Locals added a small dam to this natural depression, creating two smaller ponds connected by a strait. Since they could never be properly drained and were shaded by a forest, they were left unmanaged.

Today, the dam is underwater and Ledviny is once again a lake. Its name comes from the Czech word for “kidneys” because the lake is shaped like one. The name doesn’t appear in the scientific literature, however, but is widely used by the people who live in the area.

In terms of species diversity, Ledviny is the most interesting section of the set of plots. The lake’s water is dark yet surprisingly clear. Most of its surface is overgrown with floating pondweed in the summer while inconspicuous but increasingly rare dwarf pondweed grows below the surface.
The most valuable section of the site. Although described as a cascade of ponds in Jakubov, Ledviny is actually a lake. Based on the shape of the slope above and below it, a landslide of volcanic rocks must have occurred sometime in the past. This formed a natural depression that was later filled with water.
Among the species that thrive there, we can name three Czech newt species, the common frog, the common toad, and the marsh frog.

The flagship species of this site is the crucian carp.

This species is currently one of our most endangered native fish and was listed as critically endangered on the Red List of Endangered Species in 2017. A genetic study, which should confirm whether this species is a descendant of its originator, is being conducted by RNDr. Lukáš Choleva, Ph.D., from the Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

Other fish species that live in Ledviny include bream, perch and, to a lesser extent, tench.
Within just a few short weeks, the wetland was populated with smooth newts, alpine newts, and northern crested newts. We were delighted with this development because it confirmed the viability of the site.

Future research will reveal the various species that will settle in this wetland.
The wetland here is relatively new. When we took the land over from the previous owner, it was only a small, completely drained pond. In the spring of 2022, we restored the water level, maintaining it at maximum depth of 0.5 meters so that amphibians, dragonflies, and more can thrive in this newly created habitat.
Beyond the pond and cottage is a beautifully preserved stream watershed that leads all the way to the Ohře River. The meandering stream forms several pools and is home to many species of flowers.
There is a small cottage by the lowest pond in the cascade. It will be renovated and function in the future as a base for naturalists conducting research, temporary land management workers, and anyone who wants to volunteer and help.
Pond with
The only population of the Aesculapian snake in Bohemia lives in a small area in the valley of the Ohře River between the Doupovské and Krušné mountain ranges, hundreds of kilometers away from other members of the same species.

This mountainous area is also of importance to ornithologists and falls under the Doupovské Mountains Bird Area. The black stork, the European honey buzzard, the Eurasian eagle-owl, the grey-headed woodpecker, and the western marsh harrier are some of the species protected here. The area is also home to several impressive raptor species, such as the lesser spotted eagle or the white-tailed eagle.
The site near Jakubov Pond is located in a protected area within the NATURA 2000 system. It has the status of a Special Area of Conservation—a site of European significance. Today, many rare, highly protected species live there.
Some of these species include the highly endangered fire salamander or the Aesculapian snake, which the Czechs colloquially call “Eskulapka.”
“For many years, they remained out of reach not only for natural history researchers, but also for any visitors.”

Jan Matějů and Petr Hradecký, Doupovské hory, 2016

Hradiště Military Base

In the 20th century, a 280 sq. m. military zone was created in the Doupovské Mountains. The largest military base in the Czech Republic, it occupies almost half of the mountain range.
The Doupovské Mountains are a small mountain range in Northwest Bohemia composed of tertiary volcanic material—lava and tuff.
“Military activity, however, doesn’t necessary entail damage to nature by technology. In fact, the landscape was spared what we already consider normal in its neighboring areas: the merging of fields and meadows into large tracts, the reclamation of wetlands, and the use of chemical fertilizers.

The land in the military zone, formerly a cultivated landscape, turned into an area where renewed natural forces triumphed over human influence and where many interesting and rare animals and plants that would not have survived outside of it were preserved. The natural wealth of the Doupovské Mountains is enormous.”

Jan Matějů and Petr Hradecký, Doupovské hory, 2016
Doupovské mountains
We are implementing measures to ameliorate the habitat of the Aesculapian snake. The site is located with its species range. Our plan, therefore, is to place hatcheries and repair stone walls in cooperation with the Srdce Poohří environmental institute and Karel Janoušek, a herpetologist, leading expert on the conservation of the Aesculapian snake in the Czech Republic, and co-founder of the Zamenis association.
Our activities
We also want to create flowing pools suitable for the breeding of the fire salamander. In Ledvina, the highest situated pond, and its surroundings, research is being conducted on various groups of animals and plants. Zoologists Jan and Kristýna Matějů are studying fish, amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals, while botanists Filip Lysák and Petr Krása are focusing on (not only) aquatic plants.

We want to catch fish from the pond near the cottage and then maintain it so it can become a safe haven not only for fish, but also for amphibians, aquatic insects, and rare plant species. Last but not least, we are in negotiations with the owners of the surrounding plots so that we can further expand and develop the natural site.
“The two lower ponds are not yet as valuable from a conservation point of view, but with appropriate management they can also became crucial habitats… In any case, the group of ponds is a good basis for preserving and developing this site with its natural and esthetic potential for future generations.”
RNDr. Jan Matějů, Ph.D.
Curator of the natural history collections of the Karlovy Vary Museum, lover of the Doupovské Mountains. In addition to monitoring select species, he collaborates with the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic on the implementation of the European Ground Squirrel Rescue Program in the Czech Republic.

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