Mapping Climate Change Resistant Vernal Pools in the Northeastern U.S.

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Vernal pools are small, seasonal wetlands that provide critically important seasonal habitat for many amphibian species of conservation concern. Natural resource managers and scientists in the Northeast, as well as the Northeast Refugia Research Coalition, coordinated by the Northeast CASC, recently identified vernal pools as a priority ecosystem to study, and recent revisions to State Wildlife Action Plans highlighted climate change and disease as primary threats to key vernal pool ecosystems. Mapping out the hydrology of vernal pools across the Northeast is an important step in informing land management and conservation decision-making.
Project researchers will collect hydrology data over the course of a year for 70 vernal pools. They will combine this information with existing data on vernal pool hydrology, targeted amphibian species (e.g., wood frogs and spotted salamanders), and the ranavirus and chytrid diseases that impact amphibians. This project will provide a preliminary assessment of the resistance of particular vernal pools to changes in climate by (1) modeling key aspects of vernal pool hydrology (inundated areas in spring, spring-to-summer changes in water cover etc.) based on climate and landscape drivers, and (2) relating vernal pool hydrology to amphibian occupancy and prevalence of disease.