Mission: Vernal Pool

Spotted salamander, Dan Hocking

Research Question

Where are Maine's vernal pools? Is your pool a vernal pool?

You're invited

Henry Ingwerson and Wells Elementary students are interested in finding out where vernal pools are in Maine and if a pool of water is a vernal pool. Vernal pools are a really important habitat for many native species in Maine, so join us! 

Mission Steps

Fairy shrimp, Flickr user colleengreene
  1. Gather your materials for fieldwork, including:
  2. Find a body of still standing water. Look around for the vernal pool indicator species. Record evidence of what you find or do not find on your Freshwater Species Survey datasheet.
  3. If you see egg masses, count how many you find and include the number in your field notes.
  4. Decide, based on your evidence, if you think you've found a vernal pool. Include your decision in your field notes, too.
  5. Post your "found" or "not found" observations to Vital Signs.
Wood frogs, Dan Hocking

Why this mission matters

What is a vernal pool? A vernal pool is a body of still water that dries up in the summer. They are often mistaken for a ‘mud puddle’ and can suffer from habitat destruction. While this summertime vanishing act makes vernal pools hard to track, it's also what makes them critical habitat for many species. Because they dry up, vernal pools do not support predator species like fish, making them important breeding habitat for many amphibian species and more!

Vernal means it has to do with spring. That's when you'll find these pools teaming with life. Sometimes people call them ephemeral ponds.

Dive Deeper!

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Great idea for a long term mission. There is tons of meaningful data out there and many citizen scientists willing to check out vernal pools. The timing of this mission is perfect for Vital Signers planning on getting out for field work in the spring.

This data would also be very useful to scientists that use Signs of the Seasons: A New England Phenology Program. http://umaine.edu/signs-of-the-seasons/

Check it out.