Spring in New England provides us with a number of amazing transformations. But there is one event that sparks excitement and wonder in anyone who is lucky enough to observe it.
During the first warm rains of spring amphibians, frogs and salamanders, migrate from their upland forest habitat to vernal pools to reproduce. Many amphibian species require both wetlands and forests to survive. They spend most of the year in the forest, hiding under logs and leaf litter. But in spring they make an epic journey to mate and lay eggs in a safe aquatic environment. Many animals will return to the place they were born to lay their eggs.
The safest and most popular place to lay eggs is in vernal pools. These are temporary wetlands which provide a fish-free environment, making it relatively safe from predation. Vernal pools appear in the spring when depressions in forests fill with melting snow and rains. Many will last throughout spring and into summer, giving amphibians enough time to hatch out of their eggs and grow enough to make their own journey into the forests.
Vernal pools are not the most reliable breeding spots. They aren’t always the safe haven amphibians rely on. During especially dry springs and summers vernal pools will dry out before eggs have a chance to hatch. In this situation the depth of the vernal pool becomes very important.
However the biggest threat to vernal pools comes from human activity. These pools only appear in the spring, making it difficult to make informed decisions when it comes to development. In 2006 the state of Maine passed regulations protecting vernal pools and the animals that need them for survival. For more information about the importance and protection of vernal pools click here.
Each year LEA makes an effort to increase awareness of vernal pools and Big Night. In March we hold a Big Night “training” to get folks ready to help amphibians cross the road safely. By the beginning of April we are poised and ready to head out on the first warm rainy night and do our part. LEA will send out a message to our Yahoo Big Night Group on the day we will be going out. To join this group click here. For ten years we have had a great relationship with the local police department and they come out to help keep participants of this great event safe. This year’s training will take place on Thursday, March 16 at 5:30 PM.