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Notes from a Vernal Pool

Stewards out walking The Merritt Family Forest a little while ago checked in on one of the vernal pools and found a healthy sampling of the Eastern Fairy Shrimp (Eubranchipus Verhalis).

Fairy Shrimp are an important part of the ecosystem as they are Benthic scraper feeders which eat the algae found on the bottom of vernal pools. In turn they are eaten by the Wood Frog ( and the Spotted Salamander ( which then carry those nutrients to the upland environment!

“Fairy shrimp are freshwater organisms found in small vernal pools isolated from other bodies of water, which usually dry up during the summer months. Suitable pools must be deep enough so that they don’t freeze all the way through during winter months, which would kill the developing young. Fairy shrimp are also rarely found in water warmer than 20°C. The cyst-like eggs of fairy shrimp are very robust and can be transported by the wind (if the pool has dried up) or other organisms to other pools before hatching but, once hatched, young are confined to one pool… Eggs do not hatch until the vernal pools are filled with water again, usually in October or November.”

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