Posted on June 1, 2015 by Tracy D'Augustino, and Brandon Schroeder


As part of the Student Stewards 4-H club in Alcona County, youth in elementary through high school are working with scientists from the Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) to study and record the ecology ofvernal pools before they dry up. The Stewards explored four potential vernal pools in Negwegon State Park looking for specific species unique to vernal pools as part of the newly launched place-based education Vernal Pool Patrol Project. These youth are contributing to a statewide effort to identify, monitor and map vernal pools.


Armed with waders and dip nets, these 4-H Student Stewards tromped through the forest in late April to the first of a series of four potential vernal pools to be explored. The youth used a data collection protocol and recording sheets provided by MNFI researchers to ensure the value of their data. The youth recorded information about the pool temperature, depth, submerged and partially submerged trees and vegetation before moving on to a careful survey for aquatic animals.


There was an atmosphere of hopeful expectations with the discovery of a cluster of blue-spotted salamander eggs, a species that favors vernal pools for reproduction, followed by disappointment when no fairy shrimp were found. Moving on to the second pool, the youth were excited to find fairy shrimp within minutes of surveying the pool. The results were the same for the third and fourth pools, confirming they were vernal pools. Fairy shrimp are a species unique to the vernal pool habitat because their eggs must dry up and freeze in order for them to hatch in the spring. The lack of fairy shrimp in the first pool located within feet of the second pool leads the youth to speculate why. Looking over the data, the youth hypothesized the pool was too cold for the fairy shrimp to have hatched (the first pool was 8 degrees colder than the second pool), and anticipate finding them in future monitoring efforts...


To read the complete news article, click here!

Created on Thursday, July 23, 2015