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Vernal Pool Construction and Management

Temporary or ephemeral pools are important breeding sites for

frogs and salamanders and are also used by other wildlife such as

reptiles, migrating shorebirds and waterfowl and many types of

insects. These pools are important because they provide breeding

habitat free of predators such as fish and bullfrogs. These predators

will eat the eggs and young of amphibians. Since the time of settlement

there has been a marked decrease in temporary wetlands and

they have been replaced by permanent ponds.


While most of Tennessee's amphibians are spring breeders, there

are a few salamanders which breed in the fall. Some of the common

species which use these areas are western chorus frogs, spring

peepers, southern leopard frogs and tiger salamanders.

To select a site for your pool, you should look for natural low spots

or dips in the landscape that may hold water for short periods of time,

particularly during the spring. These sites can occur almost anywhere,

on flood plains, uplands, forests, fields, or pastures. These areas may

already have wetland plants such as smartweed and sedges. If the site

holds water for 2 or 3 months, there is a good chance it is already

being used and shouldn't be disturbed. Areas on flood plains are

especially attractive since they will fill up during floods.

A small pool can be constructed in less than a day using a small

bulldozer or a tractor and blade. A depth of one to two feet is ideal

and the pool should have sloping sides. Pools can be of almost any

size or shape depending on the site. Trees around the site should be

left in place.


Once the pool is constructed, there is usually no need to introduce

aquatic plants or animals. The soil in a seasonally wet area will

frequently have a seed bank of wetland plants and animals are good

at finding wetlands on their own. If plants are introduced, care

should be taken not to use aggressive species such as cattails or

purple loosestrife.

If done correctly, your pool will dry up during the hottest part of

the summer and fill up again in the fall or spring, just in time for the

next breeding season.



  What to do when

Use the planning calendar below for tips on enhancing your land throughout the year. Click any of the selections below for more details.






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