Vernal Pool Patrol Training Workshops

The Michigan Natural Features Inventory and MSU Extension are hosting three FREE vernal pool patrol training workshops this spring! Sign up today to learn more about vernal pools and how you can help monitor and protect these important wetlands!

Sunday, April 8
Leslie Science and Nature Center
1831 Traver Road, Ann Arbor
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
RSVP: Phyllis Higman at higman@msu.edu or 517-242-3269

Leslie Science Center_Vernal Pool Training_4-8-18_FBfinal

Friday, April 13
Hemlock Crossing Nature Education Center
8115 West Olive Road, West Olive, Ottawa County
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
RSVP: Ashley Adkins at hurdashl@msu.edu or 517-284-6211

Ottawa Co. April 13 Workshop- FB

Saturday, April 21
Hemlock Crossing Nature Education Center
8115 West Olive Road, West Olive, Ottawa County
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
RSVP: Ashley Adkins at hurdashl@msu.edu or 517-284-6211

Ottawa Co. April 21 Workshop- FB

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Vernal Pools, Rare Plants, and Invasive Species: this week in environmental news

Searching for woodland fairies and fingernail clams (Great Lakes Echo): In this podcast, Yu Man Lee, a conservationist, zoologist with the Michigan Natural Features Inventory and Trustee at Michigan Nature Association, discusses vernal pools and how they provide habitats for unique creatures one won’t find anywhere else. She also speaks about how MNFI is teaming up with citizen scientists to help protect vernal pools.

Rare Plants Discovered Near Detroit (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Newsroom): It was recently discovered that Humbug Marsh, part of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, is home to a rare grass-like plant called the hairy-fruited sedge and an orchid species called oval ladies’ tresses. Records show that these plants have never been found in Wayne County. Humbug Marsh, which was determined to have had the most disturbance over the years, has a disproportionately higher abundance of new, common species to older, rare ones that have been together for a long time.

RarePlants

Oval ladies’ tresses. Photo: David McAdoo/Creative Commons.

A sound strategy: blasting carp from the Great Lakes (Great Lakes Echo): A recent study found that sound could be the answer to keeping invasive silver carp out of the Great Lakes. What appears to be the most effective in scaring off unwanted fish is a complex sound that consists of multiple pure tones. The carp are harmful due to their fast growth, prolific spawning, and ability to out-compete native fish for food and space.

round goby

The long term effects of round goby in Lake Erie are still unknown. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

Round goby a good-news, bad-news Great Lakes invader (Great Lakes Echo): The round goby is one of the nastiest aliens in the Great Lakes – with what the DNR calls its voracious appetite and an aggressive nature which allows them to dominate over native species. But smallmouth bass find them yummy chow, and that’s also good news for crayfish that used to top the smallmouth bass menu. Although the round goby is responsible for a decreased abundance of some bottom-dwelling Great Lakes native species, the study said that other species have benefited, such as burbot and the Lake Erie water snake.

Signs of Spring: Amphibians Return to Vernal Pools

By Annie Perry, MNA Intern

For many Michigan residents, there are a few tell-tale signs of spring: Springtime birds chirping after being gone for a long winter, green grass growing, flowers sprouting, and days getting longer. But MNA stewards have one more thing to tell them that spring is here: Salamanders and other amphibians migrating to vernal pools.

A salamander MNA steward Dave Richmond found in his yard in early April. Photo by Dave Richmond.

A salamander MNA steward Dave Richmond found in his yard in early April. Photo by Dave Richmond.

Each spring, amphibians make mass (well, mini) migrations to vernal pools and ponds, usually at night during or after the first warm rainstorm. Once at the vernal pools, these amphibians will mate and lay their eggs before returning to the forest. Dave Richmond, a steward at the Edna S. Newnan Nature Sanctuary in St. Clair County, spotted some of the first salamanders of the season early this month—which means spring must be here, after all.

Vernal pools are natural, temporary bodies of water that occur in a shallow depression. These pools typically fill during the spring or fall and may dry in the summer; have no viable populations of fish; and provide essential breeding and nursery habitat for several organisms, including amphibians. Many amphibian eggs have physical properties or toxic compounds that help deter predators, but amphibians that are dependent on vernal pools lack these protections. As a result, their eggs and young are vulnerable to both aquatic and terrestrial predators. Not all vernal pools dry up every year, but each pool has some feature that prevents fish from living there, such as low oxygen concentrations during the summer or shallow levels that allow the pool to freeze to the bottom during the winter.

The spring issue of Michigan Nature magazine includes a feature on vernal pools—keep an eye out to learn more about these unique and important habitats!