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Vernal pools are vital wetlands that house fairy shrimp, salamanders and more

Vernal pool in East Lansing's White Park Trail Extension project.As part of Wetlands Month, MI Environment highlights the importance of vernal pools. Information is from the Michigan Vernal Pools Partnership.

This time of year, they may be in your neighborhood. Or along your favorite hiking trail. Called vernal pools, they are small, shallow pools of water scattered throughout the landscape. These small wetlands are called vernal pools because they are typically filled with water in the spring (“vernal” means spring) but they usually dry up and “disappear” during the summer. 

In that short time, vernal pools provide a critical habitat for certain animal species that rely on these fishless habitats for their survival and/or reproduction. These include several invertebrate and amphibian species, such as fairy shrimp, wood frogs, spotted salamanders, and blue-spotted salamanders. Vernal pools also provide habitat for many other animal and plant species, including rare, threatened, and endangered species. 

However, these vernal pools are vulnerable to a number of threats and are not well-protected under current wetland laws and regulations.

To help increase awareness, understanding and protection of vernal pools through conservation, research and mapping, education and outreach and collaboration, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) has joined with the Michigan Vernal Pools Partnership (MVPP).

Learn more about vernal pools in this recently-produced video called "Ephermeral" that captures the magic of vernal pools and some of the seldom-seen animals that rely on them.

Caption: Vernal pool in East Lansing's White Park Trail Extension project.