Wicked big puddles! Learn more about vernal pools
April 19, 2013
When walking around in the woods in the spring or fall, you might come across a wicked big puddle, and if you look closely you'll see that it is teaming with life! Look for egg masses of frogs and salamanders, tadpoles swimming around or salamander larvae hiding under leaves. If you just bend down and look close, you will be amazed at what you see.
Vernal pools are small wetlands that often fill up from rain, snow melt, or high groundwater in the spring or fall, and typically dry up by late summer. It is this seasonal flooding and drying cycle that makes vernal pools different from other wetlands and shapes what kinds of critters use them as habitat. Because vernal pools dry up, they don't have fish, which are major predators on young frogs and salamanders. Vernal pools provide a safe haven for a diversity of frogs and salamanders, allowing the young to have greater survival than in other habitats like regular ponds. For some frogs and salamanders, individual vernal pools are irreplaceable because they return to breed in the very same pool from where they hatched.
Not only do vernal pools have a diversity of wildlife living under the water - including frogs, salamanders, fairy shrimp, beetles and other bugs - a plethora of wildlife such as bear, deer, raccoons, skunks, and many other mammals, birds and reptiles also use them as important watering and feeding places. Sometimes vernal pools are the only water source for miles.
To learn more about vernal pools, visit the following websites - they have some great resources and videos of life in the pools:
How can you help vernal pools in Michigan?
You can help protect and conserve Michigan's diverse array of critters by:
- Buying a wildlife habitat license plate.
- Buying a Living Resources wildlife patch.
- Making a tax-deductible donation.
- Working with your local community or region to protect vernal pools and the surrounding forests.
- Becoming a volunteer for the frog and toad survey in Michigan.
With increased funding to the Nongame Wildlife Fund we can increase our efforts to protect vernal pools and the critters that rely on them, as well as educate people about their importance. Join us in protecting the natural, wild and wonderful things that make MiNature.