What's a vernal pool? Hint: We aren't swimming in it

By Sydney Smyk and Taylor Link

What’s a vernal pool? A pond, yes, but a seasonal one in that it typically dries out at some point during the course of the year.

Despite its lack of permanence, it is a crucial ecosystem. The Vernal Pool Association says that many organisms with an aquatic stage in their life cycle have evolved to require the temporary but fish-free waters found in vernal pools.

This type of organism is sometimes known as an “obligate” vernal pool species, because they do not breed successfully in water that supports fish, the association says. They require a temporary pool.

While wetlands have been studied extensively, including the documentation of the environmental impacts of their removal, the permanent loss of temporary wetlands such as vernal pools is less understood.

Major threats to these biodiversity hotspots include land development, road construction, and litter.

Since vernal pools are not well known, one of the most important things scientists and interested citizens can do is help educate others about their importance in our ecosystem.

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