Spring Is For Vernal Pools

Take a closer look at wood frog and spotted salamander eggs and egg masses found on MCHT preserves this time of year

Spotted salamander eggs spotted at Huber Preserve on Vinalhaven.

Land conservation is about so much more than views and human access trails—though we do love those!

When Maine Coast Heritage Trust protects land, we protect wildlife habitat for all kinds of plants and animals. And of all the habitat I have visited on MCHT protected lands, vernal pools are probably my favorite.

From mid-April through May (in the Midcoast) these temporary pools are hotbeds for wildlife. All kinds of cool insects, birds, and reptiles will visit a pool at some point in their lives, but there are certain species of amphibians with a unique relationship with vernal pools.

Species such as wood frogs and spotted salamanders breed and raise their young here. The vernal pools may rise and fall with frequency of rains, but most will dry up at some point every year, and so these frogs and salamanders race against time to lay eggs and allow their young to hatch and develop before the well runs dry (so to speak).

On warm, rainy nights in early spring, you’ll find adult wood frogs and spotted salamanders crossing roads en route to the pools where they’ll lay their eggs. As I write this (on May 6, 2019) most midcoast adult wood frogs and salamanders have returned to the woods surrounding the vernal pool, leaving behind egg masses.

Wood frog eggs (left), Salamander eggs (right)

These gelatinous masses are fun to find, giving clues as to which and how many amphibians might be living close by. We’re rooting for them!

Hope you enjoy these photos taken at Erickson Fields Preserve and Huber Preserve! See you out there!

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