Vernal pool restoration in forest ecosystems
Vernal pools are small, isolated, seasonal wetlands that contribute to biodiversity and provide critical habitat for amphibian and invertebrate species. They are highly vulnerable to destruction and are not protected under federal law, but their ecological role necessitates their conservation. In areas of the Northeast where reforestation is occurring on former agricultural fields, creation of new pools is occurring to complement preservation efforts. The goal of this project was to assess the influence of tree litter quantity and quality on vernal pool food webs (phytoplankton, zooplankton, invertebrates) in constructed forest pools. We used in-situ mesocosms, stable isotopes and nutrient stoichiometry to compare the relative amounts of carbon from terrestrial and aquatic sources. The results of this study will inform the creation and management of vernal pools for specific conservation goals.
Related publications: (* indicates student contributor)
Eallonardo, A. S.*, D.J. Leopold, J.D. Fridley and J.C. Stella. 2012. Salinity tolerance and the decoupling of resource axis plant traits. Journal of Vegetation Science. DOI: 10.1111/j.1654-1103.2012.01470.x [pdf]