SCIENTIFIC NAMES The scientific names are in parentheses. All are Genus then species unless otherwise noted. The major taxonomic levels are Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species. MAPS The maps provided for the sections on Frogs & Toads and Salamanders display the area (in green) where these animals are most likely to be found. For the frogs on pages 12 and 13, the gray treefrog can be found in the green area above the black line; the Cope’s gray treefrog can be found in the green area below the black line. All maps were provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife. OHIO’S VERNAL POOLS Discover the hidden wonders of Ohio’s vernal pools! When winter loosens its icy
grip, spring rains and snowmelt create these seasonal wetlands, and with them, a lush world that exists for only a few months each year. Thousands of different organisms comprise the mosaic web of life in a vernal pool. A drop of rain a day too late or a few grams of weight can mean the difference between life and death for some of the plants and animals in vernal pools. Maybe you have experienced a vernal pool on a walk or hike through the woods. The thousands of creatures hosted by these special places often rely on vernal pools for their very existence. When gazing into a vernal pool in late winter or early spring, you may notice fairy shrimp. This creature, a mere 1.5 inches long, appears seemingly from nowhere and then disappears into the darkness. If you are lucky, you may see a special class of salamanders that need vernal pools to sustain their life cycle. Most Ohioans may not realize they live within a few miles of these inhabitants: blue-spotted, Jefferson, marbled, small-mouthed, spotted, tiger, and unisexual salamanders.
By summer’s end, these vernal pools will vanish into the forest floor–a process that has occurred for thousands of years. However, this dormant habitat will once again jump to life in early spring to capture your imagination! This field guide to vernal pools will help you identify the animals and plants that call vernal pools home. Remember: be safe, keep good records, and enjoy exploring! THREATS TO THEIR PROTECTION The state of Ohio is a water-rich state that has more than 60,000 miles of streams and 482,800 acres of wetlands. The ancient advancement and retreat of glaciers shaped much of Ohio’s landscape and allowed thousands of vernal pools to come into existence. Whether in the county of Athens, Franklin, Hamilton, Holmes, or Paulding, vernal pools provide a myriad of functions and benefits. Vernal pools play a key role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Many watershed groups and nature centers hold public vernal pool monitoring tours, which can be found across the state in late winter and early spring.