By Barbara Walvoord
Originally published in the Lathrop Lamp Post for April 21-27, 2018
Snoopy thinks a “dark and stormy night” is the best setting for drama. But a warm, rainy spring night is the setting for an amazing drama in Lathrop’s vernal pools.
On one such spring night, hordes of 7-inch spotted salamanders emerge from underground hibernation in the forest. They begin a dangerous, life-or-death march to a vernal pool to mate and lay their eggs. Vernal pools dry up periodically, so they have no fish, which would otherwise eat all the salamander eggs. So it’s vernal pool or bust.
Predators’ talons, claws, and jaws snatch many of the marchers, but the rest keep going. Continue reading It Was a Warm and Rainy Night . . .
by Barbara Walvoord
First Printed in Lathrop Lamp Post, Nov. 18-24, 2017
Last spring, our vernal pools were jumping with visible life. Mating wood frogs quacked in a loud chorus. On rainy nights, salamanders paraded en masse to the pools from their woodland borrows and rockpiles. New-hatched fairy shrimp darted about in the water. Later, tadpoles and baby salamanders popped out feet and developed lungs. Predators circled–turtles, snakes, owls.
All that springtime life and movement is a race against time, because, at least every few years, vernal pools, by definition, dry up in summer, creating an environment free of the fish that would otherwise eat the eggs of vernal pool creatures. Fish-free is good, BUT–the creatures have to adapt to the summertime drying and wintertime freezing of the pool. Fairy shrimp lay eggs that stay in Continue reading Lathrop’s Quiet Vernal Pools