Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Vernal pools spring to life

In a desperate attempt to banish winter, John Howard arranged an Adams County foray for any signs of spring. Morning temperatures were still hovering in the 40's when we staged an assault on a vernal pool.

Vernal pools are ephemeral ponds, generally holding water January through July. They are the breeding grounds for many frog and salamander species, and if they held water all year- fish would be present and predate the eggs of the other life forms.

So here we are- tapping the keg, so to speak. Jim McCormac "handles" the ice breaking for this crew, consisting of (standing) Nina Harfman, John Howard, Janet Creamer, Bob Scott Placier and me.

Janet and Nina are the ultimate tomboys, and two of my favorite almost-adults. Here they are inspecting a larva of an immature Marble Salamander, Ambystoma opacum.

The earliest of the salamanders to breed, egg laying time for Marbled Salamander is late fall. They have a fascinating life-history, but I'll leave that up to the others to tell, as they each have nature blogs as well, and are far more knowledgeable on that topic.

While the others were making over icy salamanders, your Weedpicker wandered off to study the seed, or achenes of a Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis. This is one of my favorite wetland plant species and the seeds are a common food for waterfowl, especially the Wood Duck.

Just to give a hint of things to come, the Buttonbush flower will look this in a few months. Butterflies and bees are highly attracted to these globular florets.

Vernal pools and wetlands are important to our native wildlife. If you are interested in learning more about wetlands and the biodiversity they host, sign up for the amazing $25.00 program Managing Wetlands for Biodiversity on April 10th in Ashland Ohio. We will have 3 of Ohio's top wetland experts, Gregg Lipps, Dr Jim Bissell, and John Mack speaking and leading trips into the field.

For more information and registration form go to http://fowl.org/events/. It is hosted by Friends of Wetlands and Greater Mohican Audubon Society. Seating is limited to 75- so don't delay!

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful picture of a bottlebush bloom. I always heard of them in relation to butterflies and now I know. Additionally, my grandson and I looked at the pool and salamander pictures this evening and had a nice discussion, even doing a little further research on the internet. Thanks enjoyed it.