BEEC's Vernal Pool

Data and observations from each of our visits to BEEC's vernal pool are being recorded below. Feel free to add a post if you have any questions or comments about our field work.



Friday, June 8, 2012

Deb Pierotti's Oak Grove 3rd grade class visits BEEC to learn about vernal pools

First, the kids prepared for their expedition by running up and down the grassy hill

Joan lead the class on a walk through the woods to one of the vernal pools at BEEC. She also supplied the kids with equipment for exploring the plants and animals in the pool (magnifying glasses, buckets, nets, field guides, thermometers, etc).
Transferring organisms to collecting trays
Preparing to look closely


Everyone is busy collecting organisms

Identifying organisms

Patiently waiting

An improvised tool

Some animals the kids observed

a green frog
a water strider, skimming the surface

a wood frog tadpole










Taking stock after exploring                                  

                              Lunch time













Monday, June 4, 2012:  Mrs Walior's class visits again!

Mrs Walior's class at the Great Wall of BEEC

A close look, on a wet day!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012: Homeschoolers visit BEEC's Vernal Pool

We went to the vernal pool right down a path near BEEC, we saw green frogs and brought larvae of all different kinds back to the barn and looked at them with microscopes.  We saw a slide show of  a bunch of the different living things that live in vernal pools. 
Galen catching larvae with a net

Rio, Emily, and Marissa looking for larvae

Axis, Rio, and Galen looking through microscopes

Salamander larvae

Simon looking at water tiger

Thursday, May 18, 2012:  Mrs. Walior's Class Visits the Vernal Pool                                      

Our outdoor lab

What could it be!?

Recording data

Collecting organisms

Thursday, May 10, 2012: 

Academy School Third Graders Visit the Vernal Pool


Orly's third graders from Academy School visited the vernal pool last week.  Here are a few comments about what we did and what we saw:

Bobby:     Last week our class went to BEEC.  We went to explore the vernal pool.  The first thing we did is set up our lab with a tray, bucket, nets, magnifying glasses, and a recording sheet.  Then we gathered water in a pail and dumped it in our tray to observe it better.  We noticed organisms moving in the water.  One of them was a salamander larva.  Have you ever been to a vernal pool? I enjoyed going to learn about many organisms.  It was fun.
Ezra:     Last Thursday my class went to BEEC.  We saw animals and fished them up to examine.  One of them, which I will tell you about, was the salamander larva. The salamander larva looked a bit like the spotted salamander but it had no legs.  It had something furry on the side of its head called gills.  It also had a brown and yellow-dotted body.  It swam with its tail moving side to side as if it were an excited dog wagging its tail.   Yes, the time I went to BEEC, we caught some salamander larvae who will soon no longer be larva but salamanders.
 Gregory:     One organism we found is a finger nail clam.  It is smaller than your pinky finger nail!  It is a light yellow color.  It is shaped like a clam but smaller and yellow.  My group found four of them at the vernal pool at BEEC.  How we found the four finger nail clams is we scooped down into the leaves and pulled up.  We got one about every two scoops.  We found a lot of animals at the vernal pool but I liked the finger nail clam the most.
Hannah:     I am writing about the cool caddisfly nymph.  It looks like its home is made out of leaves and sticks.  It’s big on one side and small on the other.  I think it eats algae.  It lives in fresh water.  It lives in a vernal pool and it’s in the water until spring.  Then it lives out of the water.  I think the caddisfly nymph is so cool.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012: 

NewBrook School with Pat Branley's and Miss Heather's 1st and 2nd grade students:

Our classes went to visit BEEC and to learn about the vernal pool.  We saw the slide show and there were pictures of the different stages of a vernal pool.  We also learned about indicators of a vernal pool. They are the wood frog, fairy shrimp, and mole salamanders. 

Here we are being fairy shrimp!
We also set up labs and collected water from the vernal pool, we found lots of species that day.
With our lab set up, we are ready to start collecting!

Hiking to the vernal pool.
One of the highlights was going and working together to find and see which animal species we saw.


One group found something that looked like a bunch of leaves and sticks stuffed together. It didn't move at first, after a little while we saw a head pop out and start to move around.  It was a log cabin caddisfly larva.  We have a great time as always.
Log cabin caddisfly larva in the hand!

Log cabin caddisfly larva

The vernal pool was wet. I noticed lots of leaves at the bottom of the vernal pool.I noticed a tadpole and frog eggs. I noticed bloodworms, but they don't suck blood and they are not worms! They are a kind of larva. We found a habitat made of leaves and little pieces of wood.
We took a hike in the woods. It was fun. We saw chipmunk holes and chipmunks in the woods, but not in the vernal pool! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012: 

moving wood frog eggs
Vernal pool on April 10, 2012
yellow-spotted salamander eggs

 The overall size of BEEC's vernal pool is continuing to shrink at an alarming rate. Outcroppings of rock that typically show only their tip at this time of year, are fully exposed. Dried wood frog eggs litter the edge of the pool, and sticks with clusters of Jefferson salamander egg masses protrude into the air, as the depth of the pool continues to diminish. On a brighter note - one cluster of viable yellow-spotted salamander eggs was found today, along with a colony of yellow-spotteds under a piece of wood adjacent to the woodland pond!

 Friday, March 30, 2012:

Jefferson salamander egg mass
wood frog egg masses
We are wondering what effect the dramatic change in temperature, from last week’s heat wave to this week’s snowfall, will have on the development and viability of already laid eggs. Both wood frog and Jefferson salamander egg masses are present in BEEC's vernal pool. Some of the wood frog eggs that are on or above the surface of the water are white in color, indicating that they are likely no longer viable. Those below the surface look to be the typical clear gelatin with black spots. Salamander eggs masses differ from frog egg masses in a couple of ways. There are far fewer eggs in a salamander egg mass than that of a wood frog. Also, salamander eggs are surrounded by a matrix of jelly, which distinguishes them from frog eggs in which single eggs are merely clustered together. While the all both the Jefferson and spotted salamander eggs masses surround by this matrix a jelly, the Jefferson's is not as solid of a mass. 
spermatophore on the bottom of the vernal pool
We hope to be seeing yellow-spotted salamanders soon, as spermatophores were discovered!

male and female wood frogs

Thursday, March 22, 2012: 

On this exceptionally warm March day the vernal pool was full of life. We saw both Jefferson salamander and wood frog egg masses. We also saw wood frogs mating, and we even saw a Jefferson salamander in the vernal pool by the big rock on the east side of the pool. It was crawling about on the leaf letter in the pool. In the picture to the right, you can see how much larger and lighter in color the female wood frog is than the male.

Thursday, February 2, 2012: 

Orly's third grade class hiked through the woods to the vernal pool. On the way there we saw some mysterious tracks. Could they be from a fox? We noticed that the ice at the edge of the vernal pool was getting thin. We could see where Emily's class had walked along the edge but we couldn't walk there this time. While we were there we found some interesting seeds which we brought back to the classroom to study. We can't wait to go back again.
Orly's class at vernal pool
vernal pool on Feb 2, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012: 

Emily's class visited two aquatic habitats at BEEC.

Here's what we observed about the pond: 
- There are tracks across the pond. 
- We see bubbles!
- It's round. 

Here's what we observed on the trail: 
- Trees have mostly now leaves. 
- There are animal tracks of all sizes. 
- We didn't sink in because of our snowshoes. 
- We think we see coyote tracks, bunny tracks and one huge track off of the trail. 
- Maybe there's a bear den. 
- There are small brown nut shells with spikes, like natural velcro. Maybe these are Beech nut shells? 

Here's what we observed at the vernal pool: 
- It looks like a skating rink. 
- There are tracks on the ice. 
- The broken tree looks like an archway. 
- There are branches that recently fell on the ice. 
- There are dog tracks in the snow. 
- Nolan saw bunny tracks and showed them to everyone. Then lots of people saw rabbit tracks and fox tracks - and fox scat!
- There's a big stone wall. 
- The piece of wood looks like the water was higher. 
- Animal tracks go over the ice. There is a blue thing wrapped around a tree. 
- There are leaves and sticks frozen and sticking out of the ice. 
- The water's shaped like a bean or raindrop vs. the pond which was a circle. 
- Are there a couple of ponds? 
- We're wondering what the aquatic environments look like when it's warmer and are there any animal sleeping nearby?


Archived photos:      

vernal pool December 2011
vernal pool November 2010 w/ Angela Walton's class

Data: The environmental factors of weather, air and water temperature, depth of pool and size of pool are indicated for each visit, along with the presence or absence of various aquatic organisms.

* Note:   A "no" in the chart below, merely indicates that the indicated species was not observed on a given day. It does not imply that they were, for certain, not present.

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