By: Meaghan Gass, Huron Pines AmeriCorps NE MI GLSI and Brandon Schroeder, Michigan Sea Grant
The Guide - June 2015
A spring walk in the woods may lead you to one of Michigan's move common but lesser known wetlands - a vernal pool. These seasonal or temporary wetlands are often small in nature yet significant in ecological value. Wet in the spring, vernal pools characteristically dry up as summer progresses. In fact, those exploring woodlands late in the summer may trek through a vernal pool without realizing they passed through this important wetland ecosystem.
As the snow of winter melts giving way to spring, these wetlands fill with water and explode with life. Scientists of Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) and Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) study the ecology of these vernal pools during this small window of time each spring. Yet this can be a challenge to visit large numbers of vernal pools each spring, when life is most active, but before these seasonal wetlands dry up. Launching a new Vernal Pool Patrol Project aimed at schools and youth, these researchers are calling on our youngest citizen scientists to help collect and record data in these vernal pools across Michigan.
Contributing as part of a statewide vernal pool mapping and monitoring project with MNFI, teachers from 10 Northern Michigan schools gathered this April to learn how to involve their students as Vernal Pool Patrol partners. This place-based stewardship education training connects teachers with MNFI scientists to learn about vernal pool ecology, exploring firsthand the biodiversity of plants and animals living within vernal pools. A great professional learning opportunity for educators supported by the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative and the Grand Traverse Stewardship Initiative networks, including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Huron Pines, 4-H Youth Programs, Michigan Sea Grant, among other partners...