We are mapping vernal pools!!!!

Help us locate pools throughout the watershed and engage in vernal pool education.

Also, Join our new Listserve and find out what's going on in the vernal pool world - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ nyvernalpools

 

Wetlands, though sometimes difficult to define, are easily accepted as valuable assets to our watersheds. They have many widely recognized benefits including flood attenuation, water quality improvement, wildlife habitat, and groundwater recharge. Wetlands come in many shapes and sizes, some more obvious than others; however our ability to notice them has nothing to do with how important they are to the environment.

One wetland type that is particularly easy to overlook is the vernal pool. Vernal Pools (vernal meaning spring) in the Northeast are generally found in forests and are typically wet on a seasonal basis. In addition to being only seasonally wet, they tend to be extremely small, usually only fragments of an acre in size. No matter how inconspicuous they are, their contribution to the forest ecosystem in which they are found is monumental. Spotted Salamanders (up to 8 inches long), Wood Frogs, and many other amphibians depend on these pools as breeding sites and rarely entrust their larvae anywhere else.

The Spotted Salamander and other members of the mole salamander family are particularly important components of vernal pool ecosystems. These salamanders, like their namesake the mole, spend most of their time underground and are seldom seen by the casual observer. They only leave their underground burrows and hiding spots at night in spring to breed. For those who are interested in observing these large amphibians, spotting them on their breeding night is easy. When most of the snow has melted and spring's first warm evening rainstorm occurs, the salamanders will emerge in droves and quietly work their way towards their meeting place, the nearest vernal pool. They can be seen on this journey, usually a 200 yard trek from their burrow to the pool. By the next morning only a few salamanders will remain in the pool while most will have already headed back to their burrows leaving behind clusters of 50 to 250 eggs that will hatch in two months later.

The Upper Susquehanna Coalition and its partners plan to create a database of vernal pools in an effort to better understand how these small isolated wetlands function on the landscape. If you know of one and would like to have it included in our database please contact Melissa Yearick at melissa@u-s-c.org