Vernal Pool Unit Study

A local vernal pool

A local vernal pool

We continued our study of vernal pools this week.  We’ve had so much fun with this unit study and learned so much about these unique ecosystems. Vernal pools are filled with water part of the year but dry up for at least 2 months every year. Because these pools dry up completely fish can’t survive in them and that makes them the perfect breeding ground for many amphibians.

A little spring peeper singing at night.

A little spring peeper singing at night.

Spring peepers and wood frogs come to vernal pools in late winter/early spring to lay their eggs.

This is a spotted salamander we observed during a night hike.

This is a spotted salamander we observed during a night hike.

During the first warm rainy nights of spring, salamanders emerge from their underground burrows to make their way to these shallow pools and lay their eggs.

Fairy shrimp, caddisfly larvae, and water beetles also make their homes in these pools.

Salamander underwater during the day.

Salamander underwater during the day.

On one recent trip we were delighted to see a young salamander during the day. There was a lot of reflection on the water but if you look closely you can see the salamander.

Ribbon Snake

Some predators do of course enjoy visiting these pools. On a recent trip we came across a few ribbon snakes.

“Frog Heaven” by Doug Wechsler was a very helpful resource for this study and I am very grateful to our local naturalist for leading salamander walks on rainy spring nights.

What ecosystems have you explored near you?

6 thoughts on “Vernal Pool Unit Study

  1. Pretty cool! We have a vernal pool in our “backyard”. The Spring Peepers are especially LOUD this time of year! (Sometimes we have to close our windows to sleep!) And we had a yellow spotted salamander in our chicken run the other day. It’s a good thing *I* spotted it before the girls did! We observed it for a while and then released it near our brook. It scurried under leaf litter. (We were getting WARM RAIN the night of the salamander…and wonder if it was on it’s way to the brook or pool for mating and egg laying.) It a couple of months we’ll have a dry back yard again!

  2. I’ve learnt something. I’d never heard of vernal ponds before! I want to do a night time hike, but in order for it to be even slightly dark, I would need to go after 9pm. Not sure how the children would be the next morning!!

  3. Pingback: Favorite Science Unit Studies of 2013 | Learning with Boys

Leave a Reply