Listen for Frogs, Become a Citizen Scientist!

Listen for Frogs, Become a Citizen Scientist!

Just in time for the awakening of amphibian species, families can participate in the FrogWatch citizen science project! Using this and other resources, folks can learn about local species of frogs and salamanders and can engage in important conservation work.

Not long from now, local ponds, wetlands, and vernal pools will be teeming with life. Teetering somewhere between ice-crusted and mucky as of late, these aquatic habitats are home to a variety of fascinating species – including many types of frogs! As the landscape awakens, families can prepare for the appearance of local amphibian species by learning to identify common species, exploring the life cycle of amphibians, and engaging in citizen science opportunities.

Hibernating amphibians rise from their icy winter sleep on the first rainy night when the temperature rises above 40 degrees. Known sometimes as “the big night,” this occasion is cause for celebration – and for science. Families can serve as salamander crossing guards, helping the creatures to reach their breeding pools and taking part in citizen science at the same time.

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Vernal Pools in Western MA

Vernal Pools: Community Resources & Events Supplement Interests & Education

Studies of vernal pools support learning in many areas of interest, and a close look at amphibian reproduction can help to spark children’s curiosity about other aspects of amphibian life. Find out what’s happening in Western MA this spring!

Along with the greenery of spring comes a reawakening of wildlife, and some of western Massachusetts smallest and most fascinating creatures make their debut as soon as the snow melts! One sure sign of the change of seasons is the sound of peepers – noisy wood frogs who have made their way from their winter residences to the vernal pools that have filled with fish-free water thanks to the melting snow. Vernal pools aren’t just home to wood frogs, though. Their amphibious neighbors include salamanders, fairy shrimp, and tiny mussels, making vernal pools a fascinating (and usually temporary) incubator for many species.

Vernal pools truly come alive at a very specific time during the spring. On the first rainy night when the temperature stays above 40 degrees, frogs and salamanders migrate from their winter homes to their annual breeding grounds, filling the pools with the sounds of mating and an abundance of eggs. While it can be tempting for rainboot-clad kiddos to stomp right on into a big, shallow puddle in the woods, it’s important to know whether or not they’re romping about in a vernal pool. Such pools house the eggs of many species of frogs and salamanders, and humans’ springtime frolicking can easily disturb these eggs and negatively affect populations. However, spending an afternoon exploring along the edges of a vernal pools is nature’s classroom at its best! Families can learn to identify commonly found species, and can watch a vernal pool over the course of the spring, summer, and fall (and maybe even winter) to see how it changes… Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Vernal Pools in Western MA

Exploring Vernal Pools in Western MA

Want to get involved in protecting vernal pools in Western MA? The Berkshire Environmental Action Team has put together guidelines and a video on how to go about certifying a vernal pool, which will lead to it's protection. This is a great way for families to participate as citizen scientists and local environmental activists! Click on images to find out more. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Are your kids studying life cycles, ecology or habitats?  Have you thought about taking them to check out a vernal pool in your area?  These ephemeral habitats are wonderful places for exploring and for supplementing an interest in nature science.  Every spring there are often facilitated community events to participate in with your family to explore vernal pools.  Here are upcoming events happening in Western MA:

  • Saturday, March 31st from 5:30-9pm in Easthampton,  mysterious creatures and critters come alive in the woods at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary!  Families can take a guided tour (leaving the visitor’s center every 15 minutes) of the woods to characters who live in the vernal pools at the sanctuary.  There will be frogs, salamanders, fairy shrimp, and more!  Along with the tours will be games, presentations, and real live pond critters for kids to meet.  Celebrate spring and the unique habitats created by the change in seasons!  413-584-3009.  127 Coombs Road. ($)
  • Saturday, April 7th from 1-3pm in Florence, join biologist Brandon Abbott in exploring vernal pools near Fitzgerald Lake!  Sponsored by the Kestrel Trust, the event will allows students an opportunity to learn about the creatures that live in vernal pools and the role that the unique habitat plays in the local ecosystem during the spring.  Registration required.  413-549-1097. (FREE)
  • Saturday, April 28th at 10am in Heath, families can explore the vernal pools at Maitland Memorial Forest this morning with Red Gate Farm!  Kids will learn to spot special pool creatures like fairy shrimp, wood frogs, spotted salamanders, and more!  Dress for wet walking, registration required.  413-625-9151  x108.  Route 8A. ($)
  • Saturday, April 28th from 1-2:15pm in Turners Falls, families can learn all about vernal pools at the Great Falls Discovery Center!  The presentation will include information for kids on what vernal pools are, the species that live in them, and their importance within ecosystems.  There will even be some live specimens of types of amphibians that can be found in vernal pools!  Great opportunity to learn about biology – check out your backyard for vernal pools when you get home!  413-863-3221.  2 Avenue A.   (FREE)
  • Sunday, May 20th at 10am in North Adams, families can learn about and explore vernal pools in the Hoosac Range!  Students will learn how to identify wood frog and salamander eggs, and will learn about the importance of the pools within the local ecosystem.  Sponsored by the Berkshires Natural Resource Council.  Call to register.  413-499-0596.  Route 2.  (FREE)

Citizen Scientists Wanted for Vernal Pool Habitat

Western MA Youth  Can Help
Deerfield River Watershed Association Protect
Vernal Pools as Citizen Scientists

During springtime, our surroundings burst with new life!  One of the most interesting and least known about natural environments is the vernal pool- pools develop in the early spring while snow melts and the ground becomes softer, and pools of water gather becoming home to a laying ground for frogs and salamanders.


Vernal pool habitats are often accidentally destroyed or disturbed due to lack of knowledge about their existence.  This spring, older students have the opportunity to be citizen scientists and help report data about vernal pools in their neighborhoods!  Kids ages 10 and up are invited to monitor populations of vernal pool-breeding amphibians.

The project is coordinated by the Deerfield River Watershed Association, and requires that kids take part in two training sessions prior to assessing the pools; and also that kids visit a vernal pool twice during the month of April to check on their frogs and salamanders!  The project allows kids to become involved in the preservation of their local resources, and to learn about a unique habitat.  Taking part in the project can supplement studies of biology, ecology, environmental science, and species evolution (take a look at how species evolved to depend on vernal pools).  For more information, contact Pat Serrentino at 413-772-0520.

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Tis the Season for Vernal Pools

Drive Slowly! Frogs, Toads and Salamanders on the Hop

Vernal Pool in West Chesterfield, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

‘Tis the season for amphibians on the move, especially on warm, rainy nights. Salamanders, spring peepers, wood frogs, and toads will be hopping and crawling across our roadways on warm wet nights, heading to vernal pools and other wetlands to mate and lay their eggs. Reports of amphibians chorusing and on the move have already come in to Division of Fisheries and Wildlife during the heavy rains of March.

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