Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Eklund Vernal Pool

Yesterday I was speaking the the Booth Hill School 4th graders, so I stopped at Eklund Garden in the morning and took a few swipes with a net in the skeegy pond down below to see what I could bring to show the kids. I already knew wood frogs breed there (quacking in the spring); spring peepers (peeping, of course); spotted salamanders (a breeding swarm were witnessed this spring); and the eastern spotted newt, which I had previously caught by accident while fetching water for the plants (I also caught a crayfish once that way).
That's the newt I caught yesterday (above). It's the same species as the red eft, which we find up in the garden. He was quite lively and is seen here trying to make a break for it.

In the photo above you can see a wood frog tadpole and the newt. There were lots of macroinvertebrates, too. At the top you can see a predaceous diving beetle larvae (these things get really nasty and actually eat tadpoles) and a hellegramite. On the right are a water strider (they walk on top of the water), a damselfly larvae (the long one), and a dragonfly larvae (the squat bug).

There's a close-up of the newt and damselfly larvae.

And here's the water strider and a backswimmer (top right). The backswimmers hang from the surface upside down.

Most people, when they see a scummy little pond without fish, immediately think it should either be filled in or perhaps enlarged and filled with fish. But ponds without fish are critical breeding habitats for amphibians like wood frogs and spotted salamanders. And there may be a rich ecosystem thriving in the pond. (Although you never know. Some promising pools turning out to be just mosquito larvae and scum).

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