Bringing Nature to You: Vernal Pools

Spring is an exciting time of year for amphibians, so we’re highlighting vernal pools this month.

Vernal pools, also known as woodland pools, are seasonal ponds found in forests that provide safe breeding habitats for amphibians, like frogs and salamanders. They are created by snowmelt and spring rains, so they typically occur in the spring.

Once the ground thaws and temperatures start to warm up in late winter and early spring, amphibians emerge from hibernation ready to migrate to vernal pools for breeding. When the temperature and precipitation conditions are just right, hundreds or thousands of amphibians will make this migration on what are known as “Big Nights.” These journeys can be up to a quarter of a mile, which is no small feat for tiny amphibians, and they often encounter roads (and vehicles) along the way.

In early March, our Natural Resources Manager, Nicole Wooten, led a crew of “Big Night” volunteers to help more than one hundred peepers, green frogs and other amphibians safely cross busy roads in Cold Spring (pictured above). While the Big Nights are done for this year, now is the time to carefully observe vernal pools for frog and salamander egg masses and spermatophores, and to listen out for the different calls to know what species are nearby and active.

More recently, Nicole brought us to a vernal pool in Granite Mountain Preserve in the “Nature Time” video below.

Learn more about vernal pools and amphibians!

Listen to the calls of frogs and toads of the Northeast.

Watch a short video about amphibian migrations.

Read The Highlands Current’s coverage of the Big Nights and local vernal pools.

Learn more about vernal pool conservation and the amphibian road crossing program from the NY Department of Environmental Conservation.

Browse this frog call calendar for New York species (as you’ll see, almost every frog is calling now!).

Use this photo guide to identify wildlife that depend on vernal pools for breeding in New York.

Dig in! You can create a vernal pool in your backyard.

Be sure to check out more “Nature Time” videos and connect with us on Facebook for more ideas on staying connected with nature from your home.