Spring is slowly sneaking up on us again. Thankfully, it's time to switch our attention to the changes going on as the snow melts and everything begins to defrost. There are few better things to watch and examine in the spring than vernal pools. As the name implies, vernal pools generally hold water through the spring and then largely dry up for the rest of the year. During the first months of spring however, they hold plenty of water and serve as one of nature's breeding grounds supporting an explosion of activity.
Unfortunately vernal pools, like the rest of our wetlands, are disappearing from our landscapes. When not holding water, they blend into the landscape and do not appear to be good habitat, but nothing could be further from the truth. They are valuable and important resources within our ecosystems. Some species of frogs and salamanders are highly dependent on vernal pools as their main breeding locations. In fact, once you learn about them, you will understand that vernal pools are actually beautiful areas, loaded with plant species as well as our amphibian friends.
To help you learn more about vernal pools, MBI and the Ohio Wetlands Association are again teaming up within the Ohio Vernal Pools Partnership to present our Vernal Pool Workshops for 2016. You can get information on the MBI website at http://www.midwestbiodiversityinst.org/ or on the OWA website at http://www.ohwetlands.org/workshops.html. These workshops not only provide background information on vernal pool ecology, but they will get you into the field to experience the beauty of vernal pools first-hand. Don't miss this opportunity; sign up now!
Water quality and chemical assessments are just some of the many services MBI offers. Such evaluations reveal the impacts (or absence) of local stressors near the sampling sites in a river or stream as well as potential sources of ecological impairment further upstream in the watershed. A critical aspect of conducting these water quality surveys is to determine the drainage area for each sampling site.
Delineating a watershed may be accomplished through a variety of methods. For example, ESRI's Arc Hydro data model and toolset as well as the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) Plus are beneficial resources for calculating drainage areas. One of the quickest, and easiest, applications is available online at the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) StreamStats website (http://water.usgs.gov/osw/streamstats/). This interactive map allows users to enter predefined coordinates or simply use the cursor to select the desired watershed to delineate. In addition to viewing the watershed boundary, users are also able to download the shapefile and view a variety of flow and basin characteristics (examples shown below).
MBI applies the watershed data obtained from USGS StreamStats (or a comparable application) towards many projects throughout the Midwest. Such information aids in the preparation of a complete analysis for water quality and chemical assessments.
We are excited to offer a variety of training courses in 2016. Click on the training tab to see all of our course offerings.
The 2016 Vernal Pool Workshops were a success and we had great attendance.
We're looking forward to the Follow-Up Expedition on May 14th to see what is going on in the pools during the later spring months. There is no charge, but please be sure to register here to help us organize and communicate with participants.
Meet at 10 AM at Gahanna Woods State Nature Preserve, located in Franklin County on Taylor Station Road just east of Gahanna.
We look forward to seeing you there!