What plants grow in vernal pools?

A variety of shrub and herbaceous plant communities may be found in vernal pools. Several typical assemblages include Rice Cutgrass – Bulrush Vernal Pool, Wool-grass – Mannagrass Mixed Shrub Marsh, Buttonbush Wetland, and Sparsely Vegetated Vernal Pool Community.

What kinds of amphibians reproduce in vernal pools?

Vernal pools provide the primary breeding habitat for wood frogs, blue- spotted and spotted salamanders, and fairy shrimp and provide habitat for other wildlife including several endangered and threatened species.

Can vernal pools support amphibians?

Vernal pools support plants and animals that are specifically adapted to living with very wet winter and spring conditions followed by very dry summer and fall conditions. Many specially-adapted crustaceans, amphibians, and insects also occur only in vernal pools.

Why do amphibians breed in vernal pools?

Some amphibian species travel to vernal pools to lay their eggs shortly after the first spring rains. Other species, such as fairy shrimp and clam shrimp, leave eggs in the bottom of the pool that can withstand drying out in the summer and freezing in the winter.

What animals depend on vernal pools?

These include tiny crustaceans, fingernail clams, snails, flatworms, water mites, caddisflies, water beetles, damselflies, dragonflies, mayflies, springtails, mosquitoes, and other kinds of aquatic insects. A number of amphibian species also utilize vernal pools for part of their life cycle.

Can fairy shrimp survive in vernal pools all year round?

Because vernal pools dry up seasonally, fish generally can’t live in them. As a result amphibians, insects and fairy shrimp can thrive and maintain large populations. Unfortunately, the rapid pace of urban and suburban development in California has altered or destroyed many of these habitats.

What are the problems facing vernal pools?

Filling seasonal pools, deepening them into permanent fish ponds, and disturbances to the vegetation and soil around pools from agriculture, building and road construction, quarries, and logging operations lead to direct mortality of animals and habitat destruction or degradation.

Why is it called a vernal pool?

Vernal pools are so called because they are often, though not necessarily, at their maximum depth in the spring (“vernal” meaning of, relating to, or occurring in the spring). There are many local names for such pools, depending upon the part of the world in which they occur.

Can you create a vernal pool?

You can be a part of the solution by creating or encouraging vernal pools of various sizes and hydrologic regimes across your property. Some are dug below the water table, others use a small earthen dam to catch seeps, and many utilize artificial liners to hold rainwater and surface runoff.

Why do so many amphibians use ephemeral pools for breeding?

We take pH and several temperature readings (air and water) and measure the circumference and maximum depth of the pools. Ephemeral pools provide critical breeding and nesting grounds for many different amphibians and amphibians are excellent bio-indicators of environmental conditions such as water quality.

How is life in the vernal pool related to life in the rest of the forest?

The effects of vernal pools on the surrounding forest are seen long after the pools disappear. The insects and amphibians that emerge from the pools in the spring provide plentiful food for birds and mammals well into the fall. Vernal pools also protect and preserve surrounding lands year-round.

Why do fairy shrimp swim upside down?

Vernal pool fairy shrimp swim around upside down, eating algae and plankton growing in the vernal pool. In order to digest their food, they must produce a thick, glue-like substance to mix with their meal. They use their legs to filter feed or scrape food from hard substrates.