Maine Vernal Pools

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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.

CNH NSF proposal receives approval!

Research on vernal pools to have local and global implications
University of Maine Researchers Receive $1.5M National Science Foundation CNH Grant
(Orono) Understanding the vital connections between landowner concerns, municipal planning, conservation activities, and the ecology of vernal pools will be the focus of natural and social scientists from the University of Maine, Boston University, and Bowdoin College as they embark on a multi-year research project concerning Maine’s small natural features—vernal pools. The research will provide important insights into the conservation of small natural features in ecosystems throughout the world. “Maine has one of the strongest statewide vernal pool conservation regulations in the country. However, the stewardship of the pools happens with individual landowners at the local level,” says Aram Calhoun, UMaine Professor of Wetland Ecology, “this natural laboratory is the perfect place to study linkages between landowners, conservation strategies, and vernal pool ecology.” Vernal pools are ephemeral wetlands commonly found in eastern North American forests. They provided critical breeding habitat for a number of amphibian species, including wood frogs, spotted and blue-spotted salamanders, and invertebrates adapted to live in temporary waters including fairy shrimp. The unique hydrology of vernal pools also supports such enhanced ecosystem services as nutrient transformations and export of carbon and nutrients to adjacent forested uplands through production and migration of amphibians and other animals from the pool nursery.

The researchers already have close working relationships with a number of towns in Maine. The trust that exists between communities and researchers will promote opportunities to discover and implement local innovative vernal pool management strategies. Research results from this work will be utilized to inform policy experiments on the ground in Maine. Maine’s results will also be shared with communities throughout New England and Eastern Canada broadening the impact of this exciting research dynamic.

The National Science Foundation’s Coupled Natural and Human Systems (NSF-CNH) Program awarded this four year $1.5 million grant to bring together researchers studying linkages between ecological function, economic implications of resource regulation on private land, conservation strategies, and landowner and municipal decision-making. “This project provides the intellectual foundation for a relatively novel approach to managing natural resources that extends far beyond vernal pools to analogous systems around the globe, from prairie potholes in mid-western North America to desert springs in southern Africa,” concludes Calhoun, who will lead the project.

ABOUT: The NSF-CNH sponsored project will expand decades of research conducted by Calhoun and other members of the interdisciplinary team and initiatives with Maine Audubon Society and a number of state agencies. Since 2009, the work of the research team has been supported by the Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI), a program based at the Senator George J. Mitchell Center at the University of Maine and supported by the National Science Foundation though an award to Maine EPSCoR.

The research team consists of Aram J.K.  Calhoun, Professor of Wetlands Ecology, UMaine; Kathleen P. Bell, Associate Professor of Economics, UMaine; Krista Capps, Postdoctoral Fellow, Sustainability Solutions Initiative, Senator George J. Mitchell Center; Malcolm L. Hunter, Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Libra Professor of Conservation Biology, UMaine; Michael Kinnison, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, UMaine; Cynthia Loftin, USGS Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, UMaine; Dana Marie Bauer, Assistant Professor Earth and the Environment, Boston University; and Erik Nelson, Assistant Professor of Economics, Bowdoin College.

blue-spotted salamander eggs vp in winter
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