We're very grateful to the many people who make up our Zoo community. Beyond our animals and staff, the Zoo family comprises volunteers, students who engage with us in Conservation Discovery Corps and Explorers, members, and many more who make the Zoo the vibrant place that it is.
We want to share some "Friends of the Zoo.” Today, meet Charlotte D., 8, of Westport. Charlotte and her family have been members of the Zoo since 2018.
While many of us are looking up and out, watching for trees and flowers to burst into bloom, Zoo Director Gregg Dancho is looking down. His gaze is on the here today-gone tomorrow vernal pools.
Also known as ephemeral pools, vernal pools appear in woodlands for a brief period each spring. Formed during the fall and winter by snow and rain pooling in shallow depressions, by summer they’re gone. While they’re here in spring, however, they offer a critical nursery for many species: tree peepers, wood frogs, and fairy shrimp, among others.
When the weather is about fifty degrees at night and a light rain is falling, the spring migration begins. It’s a march of amphibians, from uplands to lowlands. A steady procession starts with spotted salamanders when ice still covers the pools’ surfaces, but then extends to red back salamanders, wood frogs and others. These are obligate vernal pool species, “obligated” to use a vernal pool for a part of their life cycle.