This is one of my favorite pictures of last year’s vernal pool research at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary. It’s always hard to get a good shot of this because of the sun’s glare on the surface of the water.
A vernal (spring) pool is a seasonal wetland. It springs up (pun intended) after winter’s snow melt and provides a habitat for newly awakened (and mated) amphibians to lay their eggs. Then, around June, these pools dry up completely. The timing of a vernal pool is crucial to the survival of many amphibian species. Several factors like amount of snow, timing of snow melt, amount of rain, and proper land conservation all effect the survival of many different frogs, toads, salamanders, etc.
The research being conducted involves monitoring the health of each of these pools. Scientists “adopt” a pool or two each spring and keep tabs on everything that happens from start to finish. We keep track of what’s living in them, how many egg clusters, what types of species are there, how the clusters grow, do they hatch, what’s the water quality, temperature, depth & spread, as well as catching, measuring and documenting successful new life (my favorite part).
What you’re looking at above is 50+ clusters of wood frog eggs floating above leaf debris in one of these vernal pools from last April.