Discussion to cover seasonal wetlands, wildlife

ATLANTA – Outdoor enthusiasts and families are invited to attend a presentation on vernal pools, seasonal wetlands that become dry later in the summer, at the Atlanta Senior Center March 11 at 7 p.m. This presentation will be given by Yu Man Lee, conservation scientist and zoologist with the Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Natural Features Inventory.

“We are working to increase awareness of the importance of vernal pools, and the species that use them,” Lee said. “Right now we don’t have a sense on how many there are in Michigan, or how many have been lost in the state due to development.”

The presentation will provide information on what vernal pools are, what species use them and why they are important to the environment. Each pool provides an ideal habitat for a variety of amphibians, invertebrates and other wildlife.

Awareness of these special places leads to a better understanding of the abundance, distribution and ecology of these unique wetland habitats, which will aid in their conservation and management.

“We are hoping we can develop a statewide program with a solid volunteer base to verify, map and monitor these pools and learn more about them,” Lee said. “There has been some vernal pool mapping in southern Michigan, but we are looking to learn more about locations and species in the pools in the northern Lower Peninsula.”

A vernal pool also can be called a seasonal or ephemeral pool, and are usually small depressions that contain water for only part of the year, typically between late fall and spring from rising groundwater, melting snow and rainfall. These pools do not support breeding fish populations, therefore providing an ideal location for frog, salamander and various species to breed and lay their eggs. Once the eggs are in place, it is a race for the species to develop before the pool dries completely.

These pools can be home to over 550 animal species, and have been home to rare species including smallmouth salamanders, copperbelly watersnakes, spotted turtles and Blanding’s turtles.

“We have identified several potential vernal pools in Montmorency County, Oscoda County and Alcona County, and would love to have interested volunteers map and monitor these pools,” Lee said. “The presentation is open to anyone who is interested, including families. Mapping and learning about vernal pools can offer an important and interesting opportunity to learn about wetlands and species that live there.”

This program is sponsored by a partnership between Montmorency Conservation Club, Montmorency Conservation District, Huron-Pines and Michigan Natural Features Inventory with the MSU Extension.

For more information about the presentation or to RSVP, visit www.volunteernorthernmichigan.org.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at ngrulke@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.