Recreate a Vanishing Ecosystem : the Eastern Vernal Pool

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Introduction: Recreate a Vanishing Ecosystem : the Eastern Vernal Pool

About: Working my dream job in the Telecom industry, so chances are, i'll never have time to respond to comments or messages, nothing personal.

Although the best choice would be to not destroy our environment to begin with, it comes too late for the vernal pool. Vernal pools are seasonally flooded pockets of wetland that serve as breeding grounds for both obligate and facultative species. Most salamanders, toads and tree frogs rely on these seasonal pools for breeding because of the freedom they offer from predatory fish. Unfortunately, estimates are that >90% of all these habitats have been destroyed. Whatever small attempt we suburbanites make is worthwhile.
The Eastern part refers to pools found in woodlands east of the Rockies, vernal pools typical of Californai are a world unto themselves.

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Step 1: What We'll Need

A shallow wide container, ie. A cement mixing tub, a child's wading pool, etc. I chose a cement mixing tub based on longevity, I've used them for at least five years for hydroponics with no UV degradation.

A Shovel

A Level

Some small pavers

Stone (Optional)

Water

Leaf mould

Flour

Step 2: Find a Place

Start by locating a shady place for your pool, vernal pools are heterotrophic with the leaf mould feeding the ecosystem, shade also moderates temperature swings.

Lay out your container and sprinkle flour around it to mark where to dig. Excavated until the container sits in the hole just a little proud of the ground level, we want to avoid runoff from the lawn (with it's associated contaminates) from entering the pool. Level the pool in the hole and backfill with soil, firm the soil around the container being sure to keep an eye on the level.

Setting up the pool

Use the pavers to build steps out of the pool, we aren't building a toad trap here, and without the steps they won't be able to get out either as adults or juveniles. Now sprinkle an inch thick layer of leaf mould on the bottom, if you can collect this legally from a known pool, great, if not, just from under a tree is fine. Don't worry if it floats it will sink after a few days.

Add water


Step 3: Dress It Up

Here's the treasure I found, as I was digging the hole I found these rocks buried there by a prior owner and used them to border the pool. My wife, the landscape designer said Oh, that's, umm, nice ;-).

If you absolutely must add plants, go ahead but locate the pool in a spot where it gets 6+ hours of sun a day or the plants won't do well. Eventually ground covers will be planted around the pool.


Step 4: Maintainance

Once a month, throw in part of a mosquito dunk. They are very specific to dipterans and won't affect the ecosystem unduly.

If you live where it freezes allow the pool to dry up during the late summer and refill with spring melt, in the south the pool can be kept filled year round.

Be sure to keep leaves from filling the pool completely and most importantly NEVER ADD FISH.

Step 5: In Conclusion

Adding a small fish free pool to the average suburban yard will do precious little to mitigate the impact of suburban sprawl, but if you're already a part of the problem, it offers a small means to increase the biodiversity of your backyard and a respite for those animals displaced from their traditional breeding grounds.

Finally here's a few pictures of creatures that have frequented one of my backyard vernal ponds.


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    37 Discussions

    0
    jamob
    jamob

    7 years ago on Introduction

    have a huge one in our backyard! snakes some turtles, lots and lots of frogs, ducks, even the occasional muskrat and i believe some flying squirrels ina large dead tree. Its really cool extremly overgrown and filled with algae though

    0
    bsharding1982

    Yeah.........................if its gonna attract snakes like that I'll pass :)

    0
    bosherston
    bosherston

    9 years ago on Introduction

    My kid goes pond dipping with school today. Ponds are the freshwater equivalent to rockpools in the fascination they hold. I'm going to make a wildlife pond this year. Thanks for the inspiration Animal.

    We had a vernal pool in our back garden - a previous occupant of the house left a kids paddling pool half buried in the garden, it became a breeding ground for frogs and other wildlife... So we never moved it.

    0
    bob.smitty
    bob.smitty

    11 years ago on Introduction

    really nice... i like the way you think (and work) i've created something similar quite by accident by leaving a cement mixing tub outside with a thick layer of sand on the bottom (left over from a casting experiment) it's now full of water and bugs and tadpoles. the only think i can take credit for, asides from procrastinating in putting all that away, is for dragging it closer to the sprinkler perimeter so it won't dry out.

    0
    blizz86
    blizz86

    11 years ago on Introduction

    lol was that cuban frog really a resident?? lol and the snake too?? loll did you know frogs dont mate?? the males squeeze the females chest to hips with their thumbs and make eggs squirt out ! loll

    0
    Lightly
    Lightly

    11 years ago on Step 5

    Excellent. Thanks, in the past I have tried to leave a large saucer of water available to insects and others in my garden, this is an even better solution.

    0
    headphoned
    headphoned

    11 years ago on Introduction

    The town in which I live has no shortage of vernal pools. Something like 500+ of them, and because they're so eco-precious or whatever they're a right pain whenever anyone wants to build anything. Still, some of the life adapted to them is pretty cool.

    Hi Stix , Avoid the goldfish, they will eat tadpoles, I have a few in my larger pond and there are very few tadpoles, and in a pond goldfish will grow, mine are up to about ten inches right now, and they were little feeders when I got them. Don't worry about importing the animals, they will show up on their own in a short period of time. I live in the middle of suburbia and have not shortage of wildlife (at least the wildlife that can tolerate man) in my yard.

    0
    akimbo m
    akimbo m

    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    A wiggler(motor with thrashing wire) powered by a solar light much?

    0
    Good Doctor
    Good Doctor

    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Interesting. Would you comment about the difference between the mosquitoes doughnuts vs. the wiggler?

    0
    Tool Using Animal
    Tool Using Animal

    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    I've never tried a wiggler, being in the shade the solar option is iffy, I prefer just to dip out some water occasionally and to drop in a chunk of doughnut if I see any larva. For example there are no larva in the sample below, so no doughnut for them. The depth is a consequence of the container chosen and also to facilitate drying out in the fall, I've seen plenty of evidence that the local treefrogs and toads would breed in that depth and went ahead and used a container I had on hand.

    100_7955.JPG
    0
    westfw
    westfw

    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    But... Aren't mosquito larva an important part of the ecosystem you're trying to recerate?

    0
    akimbo m
    akimbo m

    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Though you could just position the hacked solar light, into somewhere with light, and just trail the wire to the pond. But even in relative shade still might be fine, since we do not need the motor to spin for the whole night. And best of all, its maintainable free, especially if you replace the battery with the newer Ultra Capacitors. (and a resistor for the motor)

    0
    seedlingproject

    Is the snake eating the frog for real? Is it your photo? It's incredible!