Monday, April 23, 2007

Enjoying Vernal Pools

On Sunday, April 22, about 20 people of all ages met at Newton Community Farm to explore vernal pool life. The weather cooperated, and we had a terrific walk along the Charles River Path. Vernal pools are ponds that tend to dry up at least occasionally and therefore do not support fish. Many amphibians such as spotted salamanders and wood frogs breed almost exclusively in these pools where there are few vertebrate predators to eat their larvae. Vernal pools are incredibly productive ecosystems supporting a diversity of species, including many invertebrates. In Newton, relatively few vernal pools remain, but pools may be seen at Webster Woods, Cold Spring Park, and Dolan Pond.

Upon arrival at a vernal pool, we were greeted by a loud chorus of Spring Peepers. We observed Green Frogs, Wood Frogs, and Spotted Salamander eggs. Invertebrates that we observed included fairy shrimp, predaceous diving beetle, backswimmer, water boatman, dragonfly larvae, fingernail clam, planorbid snail, and much more. I urge you to follow the links to see photos of some of these wonderful creatures. There's a lot out there...

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