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