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Vernal Pools


Shaw Mountain vernal pool in Benson, Vermont
Shaw Mountain vernal pool in early and late spring

The Vermont Wetlands Bioassessment Project was initiated as part of a New England-wide effort to develop and implement biological assessment and monitoring programs for wetlands. The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VT DEC) and the Vermont Wildlife Diversity Program began working collaboratively to develop methods for the classification and bioassessment of two wetland types: seasonal pools (vernal pools) and northern white cedar swamps.

The vernal pool study was designed by VT DEC Monitoring, Assessment & Planning Program (MAPP) to assess the natural variability in the biological, chemical, and physical make-up of reference-quality vernal pools in Vermont in order to provide a reference framework from which future vernal pool bioassessment programs can be developed; to develop a protocol for standardized sampling of macroinvertebrates, vegetation, and water chemistry in vernal pools; to develop a preliminary classification system for reference quality vernal pools that identifies important indicators if ecological health; begin to identify the range of variability of identified indicators within the reference conditions well as factors that influence that variability.

During 1999 and 2000, 28 vernal pools were sampled in Vermont. The data has been compiled and analyzed. Click on a link below to download a section of the report: Fairy Shrimp are indicator species of vernal pools


Biologists in MAPP have worked extensively on the development of biological criteria for wadeable streams and lakes using various biological assemblages from those environments, with emphasis on aquatic macroinvertebrate and fish assemblages. In addition, the Department of Environmental Conservation has developed a classification system, based on biological assemblage attributes, for rivers and lakes.

For information on northern white cedar swamps contact the Vermont Wildlife Diversity Program.

For more information on vernal pools contact the Monitoring, Assessment and Planning Program.

VT DEC Watershed Management Division 1 National Life Drive, Main 2  Montpelier, VT  05620-3522  Tele: 802-828-1535   Fax: 802-828-1544

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