Vernal Pool Middle School: Learning the Mysteries of a Vernal Pool

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Red-backed Salamander

This video essay celebrates some of northern Michigan’s most threatened wetlands and some of the young citizen scientists working to better understand and preserve them.

Ephemeral, fecund and a bit mysterious, vernal pools play important roles in northern Michigan forest ecosystems. They provide the unique breading habitat needed by frogs, turtles, salamanders and many other special creatures. In turn, these creatures play important roles in the ecosystem as consumers of insects and other invertebrates as well as a major food source for other forest animals.

Unfortunately, there were few records and maps of vernal pools in northern Michigan until very recently. Further, these special woodland features are threatened by development, logging and other disruptions.

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Vernal Pool at the Offield Nature Preserve

And the increasing variation in precipitation that comes with climate change adds to the vulnerability of vernal pools.

In response, the Michigan Natural Features Inventory operated by MSU has begun a vernal pool inventory program, enlisting help from citizen scientists and resource preservation organizations. Through this effort, the organizers hope to learn more about where these critical habitat exist and how best to protect them.

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Harbor Springs Middle School – Great Lakes Science

In this video essay, we join a Harbor Springs Middle School class of citizen scientists as they participate in a vernal pool mapping and monitoring program supported by the Little Traverse Conservancy as well as the Michigan Natural Features Inventory.

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