Vernal Pools & the ecosystem

There is lots to learn about vernal pools, their sudden appearance in the spring and the organisms that depend on them. Come learn from a biologist about these pools that teem with life this time of year!

Vernal Pools

Vernal Pools are a type of wetland that is usually associated with forest settings. Vernal Pools are ephemeral wetlands that are seasonally flooded and generally isolated from stream systems. These pools become dry annually, or at regular intervals and are generally absent of fish. Vernal pools are fed by rain, fill with water in late fall and remain wet until mid-summer before drying up. Not only are vernal pools wet for a small portion of the year, but they also tend to be extremely small, usually only fragments of an acre in size.

Vernal Pool Life

Organisms that are associated with vernal pools fall into two categories. Obligate or direct indicator vernal pool species are completely dependent on vernal pools for parts of their life cycles. They require this type of habitat in order to successfully breed and survive. If they are present then the habitat is classified as a vernal pool. Facultative or indirect indicator species are not solely dependent on vernal pools but are commonly found in and around them though they will also use other wetland habitats for their various life cycles.

For many of the species listed below, click on this link to Yale University’s Peabody Museum.

Obligate Vernal Pool Species

Spotted Salamander
Jefferson Salamander
Blue Spotted Salamander
Wood Frog
Fairy Shrimp

Faculative Species

Red Spotted Newt
Northern Spring Salamander
Four-toed Salamander
Spring Peeper
Gray Tree Frog
American Toad
Green Frog
Leopard Frog
Pickerel Frog

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