Vernal pools are some of the most productive wetland systems we know of, and are often referred to as “nature’s nurseries.” Entire populations of wildlife depend on these seasonally wet pockets of wetland which are often found in our woodlands. The wildlife that inhabit these fantastic isolated wetlands have evolved to withstand the variable wet-dry cycles of the pools, while also capitalizing on the complete lack of predatory fish. And, so in vernal pools we have fascinating creatures, some of which are known only to these tiny spots of standing water such as fairy shrimp, spotted salamanders and wood frogs. But, many other species are often found in these pools including copepods, spring peepers, dragonflies, damselflies, Blanding’s turtles, fingernail clams, water striders, garter snakes, amphibious snails, clam shrimp, water beetles, water boatmen, water scorpions, and list goes on and on!
So take a walk this weekend in the woods, start walking downhill and I’ll bet you’ll eventually run into a vernal pool. It’ll still have a lot of water in it, so wear your swamp boots, walk to the edge of the pool and look down. It may take a moment, but your eyes will adjust and you will start to see all of the life that this environment depends on. Or, just take a look at these two short videos and you’ll never think about the woods in the same way again!