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Vernal Pools

Photos of a vernal pool through the seasons

Vernal pools are shallow bodies of water that fill in spring or fall with rain or snowmelt. Some vernal pools are isolated woodland depressions, while others may be found within wetlands such as red maple swamps. Vernal pools often dry up by mid-summer because they do not have a permanent source of water.

As a result of their seasonal dryness, vernal pools cannot support a fish population. All of these characteristics create a unique environment and provide a valuable breeding habitat for wildlife. In Rhode Island spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum), marbled salamanders (Ambystoma opacum), and wood frogs (Rana sylvatica) are all dependent on vernal pools for breeding habitat and survival.

Vernal pools and vernal pool species are very sensitive to human disturbance from urbanization, agricultural practices, and logging. Vernal pools species depend not only on the pools for breeding sites, but they depend upon the surrounding upland habitat for other life requirements.


Images courtesy of Leo Kenney, Vernal Pool Ass'n.


Photo of frog eggs

To learn more about RI vernal pools, visit the
RI Vernal Pool website, or select one of the following:

Related Vernal Pool Links: