Vernal Pools

Protect Your Vernal Pools!

Vernal pools are temporary pools of water in the spring that provide habitat for distinctive plants and animals where they can reproduce without threat of fish predators. These pools are a hotbed of biodiversity, feeding the surrounding country side with their reproductive success.

Vernal pools are fundamental to the functioning biodiversity of an area. Vernal Pools are critical for the mating success of amphibians and certain reptiles. Yet they are not fully protected nor fully studied. We look upon them as wet, muddy, ugly places. ATVs drive right through them, splashing the water out to the forest sides, condemning their inhabitants to an unfinished, nonproductive life. Earthmoving equipment destroys them without thinking. Yet they are wondrous to watch and see the frogs and salamanders and their offspring enjoying the pools along with all sorts of aquatic arthropods doing their dance.


Vernal Pools (notes from Portland Press Herald):

Phillip deMaynadier, an amphibian and reptile expert and state biologist with Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, says “vernal pools are critical for more than half of the amphibians and reptiles in Maine – including more than 10 species that are threatened or endangered.”

He says only 20 percent of vernal pools in Maine are eligible for protection under current regulations. And while vernal pools in Maine are prolific, he says, species such as the Blanding’s turtle and the ribbon snake are not.

Continuing, he says that “Vernal pools are one of the more common wetland types and they are one of the most threatened. Because they are small and temporary, and difficult to recognize, they fall through the cracks as far as wetland protection.”

Some of Maine’s vernal pools are protected by a state law requiring a 250-foot buffer zone from development. But the forested habitat beyond the regulatory zone is as important for the amphibians as the pool where they breed. As a result, the law is not so effective.

Amphibians breed in the pool but live in the forest.


1) Vernal Pools Virile and Vulnerable, Portland Press Herald
2) Vernal Pools Fact Sheet: A Significant Wildlife Habitat, Maine Department of Environmental Protection