Maine Vernal Pools
This web site was designed to provide information on vernal pools for the people of Maine.
You will find a variety of resources on vernal pool ecology, the animals that breed in and use vernal pools, an explanation of state and federal regulations pertaining to vernal pools, and materials developed to assist you with field assessments and local mapping projects.
Featured Scientist -
Kevin J. Ryan
goal of my research is to understand the movement
patterns and habits of two of the Northeast’s rarest
vernal pool-breeding amphibians, Eastern Spadefoot
Toads (Scaphiopus holbrookii) and
Blue-Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma laterale).
Eastern Spadefoots are desert amphibians that found
their way to the wetter climates of the Northeast.
Not much is known about them because they are so
rare and hard to find. They don’t breed every year,
as do all other amphibians in the Northeast, and
they spend most of their time in underground
burrows, emerging occasionally at night to feed on
insects. Not much is known about under what weather
conditions Eastern Spadefoots emerge from their
burrows or even what their preferred habitat is.
While more is known about Blue-Spotted Salamanders,
there are still many questions. Most “Blue-Spotted Salamanders” in New
England are actually a mix of Blue-Spotted
Salamanders and Jefferson Salamanders. Pure
Blue-Spotted Salamanders are only found in three
locations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New
York. To understand both spadefoots and blue-spots
better, I studied habitat use and how the animals
move through their habitat using extensive pitfall
trap arrays, which separate the different cover
types present at my research sites. I also
looked at fine-scale movements of individuals using
radio telemetry, and used a new method of locating
microchip-implanted individuals with a backpack
scanner with an antenna similar to that of a metal
detector. Finally, I monitored Spadefoot Toad burrow
emergence by using stationary microchip readers.
Ultimately, my findings will help determine the best
ways to allow development to occur without
compromising the habitats used by these and other
vernal pool amphibians.
*For questions regarding my research, I can be
Publications resulting from the above research
Ryan, K. J., and A. J. K. Calhoun. In Press. Post-breeding Habitat Use of the Rare Pure-Diploid
Blue-spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale). Journal of Herpetology.
Ryan, K. J., A. J. K. Calhoun, and J. D. Zydlewski. In Press. Using Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) Systems for Terrestrial Detection of Blue-Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma laterale) in situ.Herpetological Conservation and Biology.
Ryan, K. J., A. J. K. Calhoun, J. D. Zydlewski, and B. C. Timm. In Review. Monitoring Eastern Spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrookii) response to weather using a
passive integrated transponder (PIT) system. Journal of Herpetology.
Ryan, K. J., D. P. Quinn, A. J. K. Calhoun In prep. Movement Patterns and Terrestrial Habitat Use of Eastern Spadefoot (Scaphiopus
holbrookii) at the Northern Limit of Their Range.
Kevin just finished his Ph.D. in the Wildlife Ecology Department at the University of Maine this
May. He also works for FB Environmental, a small environmental consulting firm with offices in
Portland, Maine and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Prior to his current appointments Kevin worked as a field
herpetologist/office manager for the Wildlife
Conservation Society’s Metropolitan Conservation
Alliance. At FB Environmental Kevin conducts wetland
delineations, vernal pool assessments,
herpetological surveys, and assists with water
quality sampling and data sonde maintenance and
deployment. Using CommunityViz software, Kevin
conducts build-out analyses for municipalities and
watershed groups to evaluate land use regulations,
compare alternative development scenarios, and
assess potential environmental impacts from future
development. He also assists with conservation
planning, technical report writing, and GIS analysis