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Mapping Climate Change Resistant Vernal Pools in the Northeastern U.S.

New Hampshire
Rhode Island
New York
New Jersey
West Virginia
North Carolina
+11 more


Vernal pools are small, seasonal wetlands that provide critically important seasonal habitat for many amphibian species of conservation concern. Natural resource managers and scientists in the Northeast, as well as the Northeast Refugia Research Coalition, coordinated by the Northeast CASC, recently identified vernal pools as a priority ecosystem to study, and recent revisions to State Wildlife Action Plans highlighted climate change and disease as primary threats to key vernal pool ecosystems. Mapping out the hydrology of vernal pools across the Northeast is an important step in informing land management and conservation decision-making.

Project researchers modeled the hydrology of roughly 450 vernal pools from West Virginia to Maine, using roughly 3,000 field observations of pool inundation. The resulting models provide a way to assess the relative resistance of vernal pools to changes in climate by (1) discerning relationships between vernal pool hydrology (i.e., patterns of inundation) and climate and landscape drivers, and (2) predicting likelihood of vernal pool inundation at several seasonal time points under a variety of weather and climate scenarios. In addition, researchers collected hydrologic data over the course of a year for 54 vernal pools for use in future studies.


Cartwright, J., 2020, Seasonal Wetland Refugia: Identifying Hydrologic Resistance to Warming and Drought in Vernal Pools and Playas. Seminar to be presented remotely at the North American Congress for Conservation Biology, Denver, CO, July 29, 2020.
Morelli, T. "Identifying vernal pool refugia from climate change" Presentation at the 76th Annual Northeast Fish & Wildlife Conference (NE AFWA), Long Branch, NJ, April 19 - 21, 2020.
Morelli, T., Cartwright, J., and Grant, E., 2018, Vernal pool threats: How might climate change alter vernal pool management considerations? Presented at Of Pools and People: Translating Vernal Pool Research into Desired Management Outcomes, Ashland, MA, October 25 2018.