While hiking we found a swamp and listened to a wonderful chorus of spring peepers and (we think) Eastern American toads.
We also saw lots of vernal pools, bodies of water that appear in the spring and last from two to three months before they dry up in the summer. Some types of amphibians, crustaceans, and other wildlife need these pools for breeding, hatching eggs, or as a nursery while they are young. Because they are temporary, vernal pools do not contain fish (which eat tadpoles and larvae).
When you hike by vernal pools, they don’t look like much. In fact, my sneakers got soaked as I tried to jump over one. Yet they are of critical importance to wildlife. I’ve noticed, however, a lot of comments on environmental blogs that read something like this, “Only treehuggers would want to save these mud puddles!” Yet wood frogs, some species of salamander, and fairy shrimp need these “mud puddles” in order to survive. Every year hundreds of acres of wetlands are lost (usually forever) to commercial or residential development. According to the Ohio Vernal Pool Partnership
These usually small, but very dynamic wetlands fill with water, blossom with life and host a cacophony of sounds and a plethora of life forms every spring, only to disappear into the forest floor every autumn…. A vernal pool is a place where a good naturalist can weave many fascinating stories about the amazing life forms, adaptations, and life histories of its inhabitants, and demonstrate it by a single swoop of a dip net! Vernal pool is a miniature, fascinatingly complex and fragile world, with all of its drama played out every year close to our homes, and yet most of us have never witnessed it. [Ohio Vernal Pool Partnership].
Here are some sites and articles I’ve found (you can also try putting “vernal pool” and the name of your state in google).
Massachusetts (The Vernal Pool Association)