Snowbanks are melting, trees are budding, and throughout Penn’s Woods, salamanders, frogs and other creatures are making their way to the small seasonal wetlands known as vernal pools.
The Nature Conservancy in Pennsylvania will sponsor a series of vernal pool walks over the next month to introduce people to these fascinating ecosystems. Many vernal pools are fed by the runoff from melting snow, and may exist for only a matter of weeks, yet they play a critical role in our forests.
“One of the many reasons why vernal pools are important is because they support a distinct biological community that is adapted to a dry phase. This seasonal drying allows for a fishless environment that is necessary for successful reproduction by several amphibians that would otherwise succumb to competition or predation,” said Conservation Scientist Tracy Coleman of The Nature Conservancy in Pennsylvania.
Many amphibians and invertebrates rely on these temporary pools for breeding, and the spring symphony of evening frog song can be amazing. In Pennsylvania, there are five species of amphibians and a type of crustacean that use seasonal pools almost exclusively for breeding and larval development. Visitors to the woods this time of year may see such species as wood frogs and spotted salamanders, and will likely hear a chorus of northern spring peepers.
2010 Nature Conservancy Vernal Pool Party Hikes:
All hikes are from 7 - 9 p.m., children are welcome.
Forest Pools Preserve (Cumberland County)
Wednesday, March 24
Saturday, March 27
Mount Holly Marsh (Cumberland County)
Friday, March 26
Minsi Lake (Northampton County)
Friday, March 26
Wednesday, April 7
Friday, April 9
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
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