Written By Stefni Krutz.

Posted on April 1st, 2020.

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Vernal pools play host to many forms of wildlife. An important part of these are the invertebrates which have roles as both predator and prey.

Vernal pools play host to many forms of wildlife. An important part of these are the invertebrates which have roles as both predator and prey.

While photo-documenting the growth of the salamanders within their eggs, I admired the cornucopia of insect larvae in the pool. Mosquito larvae and bloodworms were present from the earliest viewings. The bloodworm will metamorphose into a non-biting midge. The sheer numbers of larvae present covered the surface of the pool some days.

The role of the insect larvae in vernal pools is the cycling of energy and nutrients. Many species of invertebrates are microscopic or live in the leaf litter and thus were not seen by me. Others I saw but could not identify. Hydroperiod and flooding patterns determine which invertebrates are present in a pool. To my untrained eye the same visible species were present in all of the rut pools.

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May 1. Mosquito larvae swimming around the salamander egg masses.

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May 3. The red line in the bottom left quadrant is a bloodworm.

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May 8. Insect larvae covering the surface of the pool.

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May 8. Large numbers of insect larvae with spotted salamander egg masses. 

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May 10. Insect larvae preying on salamander hatchling.

Tune in next time for the final blog in this four-part vernal ruts series: Toad Eggs and Tadpoles. 

For a deeper dive into the invertebrates, amphibians, and reptiles that inhabit vernal pools in the northeastern U.S., check out these helpful resources below:
https://blogs.uakron.edu/weeks/files/2016/01/Colburn-et-al-Vernal-Pools-Book-Chapter.pdfhttps://blogs.uakron.edu/weeks/files/2016/01/Colburn-et-al-Vernal-Pools-Book-Chapter.pdf

https://dec.vermont.gov/sites/dec/files/wsm/wetlands/docs/wl_FieldGuideToTheAnimalsOfVernalPools.pdf
http://www.naturalheritage.state.pa.us/VernalPool_Invertebrate.aspx

 


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