Many of the animals that breed in vernal pools live in the upland areas around the pool during the non-breeding season. When pools dry, wood frogs migrate to forested upland areas that are as much as 1,000 to more than 2,000 feet from their breeding pools. Mole salamanders will migrate to forested uplands that are 1,000 feet from their breeding pools.
Vernal pools are a resource protected from unregulated alteration under the DES Wetlands law and rules. The rules provide definitions of vernal pool, primary vernal pool indicators and secondary vernal pool indicators.
Typically, a vernal pool
- Forms in a shallow depression or basin;
- Holds water for at least 2 continuous months following spring ice-out;
- Cycles annually from flooded to dry conditions, although the hydroperiod, size, and shape of the pool might vary from year to year;
- Has no permanently flowing outlet;
- Lacks a viable fish population; and
- Supports one or more primary vernal pool indicators, or three or more secondary vernal pool indicators.
The following species are those considered primary vernal pool indicators and with the pool characteristics described above, document the presence of a vernal pool.
- Spotted salamander, Jefferson salamander, Blue Spotted salamander, and Marbled (in order or increasing rarity) These species are often referred to as mole salamanders because they spend their non-breeding time underground in upland areas.
- Wood frog
- Fairy shrimp
The following groups of invertebrates are secondary vernal pool indicators. They live at least part of their lives in the still waters of temporary pools. The following list is of those families or groups specifically named in the rules; however, other species inhabit vernal pools and may be considered secondary vernal pool indicators.
|Invertebrate Indicator -
Common name of group
|Invertebrate family||Common name of family members|
|Caddisfly larvae or cases||Limnephilidae||Northern caddisflies|
|Phryganeidae||Giant case makers|
|Polycentropodidae||Tube or trumpet caddisflies|
|Clam shrimp or shells||Laevicaudata||Clam shrimp|
|Fingernail clams or shells||Sphaeriidae||Fingernail clams|
|Aquatic beetle larvae||Dytiscidae||Diving beetle|
|Haliplidae||Crawling water beetle|
|Hydrophilidae||Water scavenger beetle|
|Dragonfly larvae or exuviae||Aeshnidae||Darners|
|Damselfly larvae or exuviae||Coenagrionidae||Narrow-winged damselflies|
|True fly larvae or pupae||Culicidae||Mosquitoes|
|Spire-shaped snails or shells||Physidae||Tadpole snails or pouch snails|
|Lymnaeidae||Pond snails or limpets|
|Flat-spire snails or shells||Planorbidae||Wheel snails, orb snail, or ram's horn snails|
Identification and Documentation
NHDES Wetlands Rules: For vernal pool citations, see definitions in Env-Wt 100 and requirements in sections Env-Wt 301.01 and Env-Wt 302.04(a)
NH Towns with Vernal Pool Inventories
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