Happy first day of Spring! The welcome arrival of spring brings melting snow and spring rains, which form temporary, yet critically important ecosystems for frogs and many species of amphibians known as vernal pools. Vernal pools are flooded shallow depressional wetlands that contain water for only part of the year, typically in spring. The word “vernal” is derived from the Latin word “vernus,” which means “belonging to spring.” Vernal pools occur throughout the Commonwealth and vary in size from less than a few feet across to over an acre. Because these pools are ephemeral in nature and are not connected to any other body of water, predatory fish are unable to become established. Since the vast majority of frog and other amphibian species must lay their eggs in water, this predator-free environment is vital to their successful reproduction. Vernal pools also provide us with important ecosystem services; they help control flooding and are excellent filters for ground water.
To learn more about vernal pools and how to create one in your backyard, please read the IPFW’s Guide to Creating Vernal Ponds (PDF). Also, be sure to read our post about Vernal Pools for Salamanders!
This is a part of our Virginia is for Frogs campaign, where we’ll be sharing a frog fact-of-the-week all year long.
Want even more frog facts and calls? Check out our Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia, available from ShopDGIF.com, a 44-page field guide that covers all 27 species of frogs and toads that inhabit Virginia. Their calls have been captured on a high quality CD that can be easily listened to in the field, classroom, or at home!