Because vernal pools are often dry by summer, people commonly fail to recognize their importance in sustaining native species. Without being educated about their place in the life cycle, well-meaning people may clear and build on the land, removing critical support for biodiversity. These seasonal wetlands perform important ecological functions even though small and always temporary.
Knowledge leads to understanding, and then progresses to compassion and protection. Look for vernal pools on your walks and hikes through woodlands, or on your own property if shallow pools form there. Signs of life are all around us, but sometimes we have to look closely to see it. There’s a music to spring life, as well, in the songs of migrating birds and tree frogs, reminding us that protecting nature must be second nature for all of us.
“So many voices, so many languages, beyond human tongues, are never listened to.”
-David M. Carroll
How Can You Help?
Frogs and amphibians are our new canaries in the coal mine. Their skin is very porous, and so they quickly reflect damage from contaminants in their environment. Also known as a “sentinel” species, their aquatic homes are affected by chemical runoff from lawn and garden fertilizers and biocides even miles away.
The Zoo participates in FrogWatch USA, and you can, too. FrogWatch USA is a citizen science program that provides individuals, groups, and families opportunities to learn about wetlands in their communities by reporting on the calls of local frogs and toads. In a collaboration between the Zoo, The Maritime Aquarium, and Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History, volunteers make regular visits to wetlands in your neighborhoods and keep a frog log to record the frog and toad calls you hear. Working with experts, volunteers will learn about local frog species, then visit wetlands once or twice a week for about 15 minutes each night this spring and summer.
The watch begins a half hour after sunset, making the watch ideal for families with older children. Observations are reported to a national online database to contribute to amphibian conservation efforts. More information here: https://www.beardsleyzoo.org/frogwatch.html
The last training takes place on March 25th at 7 p.m.
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”