Vernal pools

Miniature wetlands are important for amphibians

In early spring you may hear the choruses of frogs and toads coming out along the trail; follow this link to hear what American toads sound like.  Toads and frogs really depend on little pools during the spring season when they lay eggs and the young develop. That's because these little pools don't have fish, which can eat the eggs and tadpoles.  However, turtles may find them, so the pools are also important in helping them survive and reproduce. 

Adult toads, frogs and turtles eat lots of different things, including insects and other invertebrates.  They are part of the balanced ecosystem we try to promote along the trail.

You can look in the pools for eggs and tadpoles, but please leave them alone so we can continue to hear the lovely sound and enjoy the other benefits of frogs and toads in our neighborhood. 

Thanks to David Galinsky for this photo of a Green Frog near the creek

Special plants of vernal pools

Can you see what looks like a tiny pine tree sticking out of the water? This is a plant called horsetails, or sometimes scouring rush. Plants like this were around when dinosaurs roamed the earth; you can read more about it on other parts of this website. 

There are larger and more persistent pools along the trail too, like the one near the bridge over Belmont Avenue. These also are home to frogs and toads, and they may also have plants like cattails, which are also wetland specialists. 

Want to learn more?

The Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program has lots of information about vernal pools in the state, and even maintains a registry of important pools; follow the link to read all about it.  There are good photos and descriptions of frogs and toads that live in and around the pools.