|Image © Sharon Hosko|
The sounds and sights of vernal pools come into existence only a few months of the year. Vernal pools or ponds usually develop in the spring, when rain and melting snow fill in depressions in the ground. Vernal pools usually dry up as the weather gets warmer.
Vernal pools don't have fish, which allows for the successful breeding of certain amphibians and invertebrates. Spotted salamanders, wood frogs and toads lay their eggs there. Then they return to their homes on land. Freshwater shrimp and plankton live their whole lives there. When a pool starts running dry, the plankton form cysts and the female shrimp lay egg cases. This protects the organisms until water fills the pond in the spring and the cycle starts again.
Vernal pools are full of life, yet also sensitive and very threatened. Ohio has lost over 90% of its original wetlands over the past 200 years. Far too many of these temporary habitats have been cleared and filled in for human purposes, such as housing developments, shopping areas and agricultural fields. Salamanders and frogs breeding in vernal pools also need the surrounding forest to survive. Most of them use an area up to 200 meters from the pond as feeding and over wintering grounds, and for this reason both forest and wetland protection are important.
How can YOU protect and preserve vernal pools?
- Support the protection of vernal pools and their surrounding habitat.
- Visit vernal pools in your area -- experience their uniqueness.
- Volunteer for local vernal pool restoration efforts.
- Raise awareness in your local community to support land use that will protect vernal pools and their upland habitat.
- Consider long-term protection options for vernal pools and other wetlands on your private property such as conservation easements -- contact a local land trust, such as the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.
- Join local conservation organizations involved in vernal pool protection:
- Support the Leap Into Action Vernal Pool Habitat Project