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Vernal Pool

 

As a teenager, Sue, the gardens’ manager, had noticed spring puddles, inhabited by frogs, on the neighbor’s side of the stonewall. Years later, Rich Clark was clearing a swath of woodland with his tractor. This was now the garden’s property, and the cleared area became Moon Gate Circle and the wildflower areas. Rich asked Sue if he had done enough, and she asked that he clean out the small kidney shaped pond 

before he left. The vernal pool was born!

 

Within the year, fairy shrimp, whirligig beetles, dragon and damselflies had all found the pool. And by late spring, the water would boil with tadpoles. Spring peepers, wood and gray tree frogs all deposited eggs in the pool.

 

These smaller amphibian species are termed obligate vernal pool breeders. Their young rarely survive in permanent water bodies like ponds or lakes. But vernal pools dry up in the summer. This means no fish, so in these ephemeral waters, small tadpoles have a chance to live, grow and become frogs!

 

In fact, these frog species return to the same pool they emerged from, year after year.  And somehow, these tiny frogs find their way back to the same pool, generation upon generation. Biologists call this breeding site fidelity.

 

We return to the pool year after year too, removing invasive plant species, and listening to the frogs calling their mates. We think our pool adds beauty to the gardens, and know it adds diversity and resilience to the ecosystem.

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