A pond is a body of standing water, either natural or man-made, that is usually smaller than a lake. They may arise naturally in floodplains as part of a river system, or they may be somewhat isolated depressions (examples include vernal pools and prairie potholes). Usually they contain shallow water with marsh and aquatic plants and animals. A few animals also make ponds, including both alligators and beavers. The type of life in a pond is generally determined by a combination of factors including water level regime (particularly depth and duration of flooding) and nutrient levels, but other factors may also be important, including presence or absence of shading by trees, presence or absence of streams, effects of grazing animals, and salinity.
Humans also make ponds. A wide variety of man-made bodies of water are classified as ponds. Some ponds are created specifically for habitat restoration, including water treatment. Others, like water gardens, water features and koi ponds are designed for aesthetic ornamentation as landscape or architectural features. Fish ponds are designed for commercial fish breeding, and solar ponds designed to store thermal energy. Standing bodies of water such as puddles, ponds, and lakes are often categorized separately from flowing water courses, such as a brook, creek, stream or river.