Vernal Pools: Links to Indicator Species Information

Reemerging from the mud

Last month’s post on vernal pools was very popular. As a follow up I gathered together links to website articles and downloadable pdfs on identifying vernal pools by their plant and animal indicator species.

An indicator species is a plant or animal (or a group of plant or animals) whose presence or function, can indicate a specific type of ecosystem. The presence of an indicator species may show the health (negative or positive) of the ecosystem.

In the case of vernal pools, certain physical features define a vernal pool. A vernal pool is defined as:

  • the pool exists temporarily
  • there is an absence of fish

The presence of certain species of salamanders or frogs in combination with physical features indicates a vernal pool ecosystem. If those certain species of animals or plants are often present in a vernal pool, then those animals or plants are called “indicator species”.

Indicator species of an ecosystem can differ from region to region. An indicator of a vernal pool in New Hampshire probably aren’t the same species as a vernal pool in Texas.

Some regions of North America may not have an abundance of vernal pool ecosystems. Vernal pools seem prevalent in the Pacific Northwest, California, Texas, the Northeast, and MidAtlantic regions.

If you know that your region has vernal pools but can’t find readily available Internet information, there is a citizen science, homeschool or scout project right there.

If you would like to find indicator species for vernal pools, search the Internet for search terms similar to these.

“vernal pool indicator species”, “vernal pool plants”, “vernal pool ecology”.

Include your state or region in the search term.

I have included links to webpages with vernal pool indicator species information or sometimes the only information I could find on vernal pools for a specific region.

The Northeast (covering Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts)

Field ID Cards for Vernal Pool Indicator Species Cards for the Northeast

Vernal Pool Habitats Around Maine

Maine: Indicator Species for Vernal Pools

Vernal Pool Indicator Species

New Hampshire Vernal Pool Indicator Species

New York State Vernal Pool Mapper

MidAtlantic (covering Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC)

An Introduction to Mid-Atlantic Seasonal Pools

Vernal Pools Animals for  Pennsylvania

Vernal Pool Vegetation for Pennsylvania

The Southeast

I couldn’t find any internet resources on vernal pools in the southeast. I saw mentions of vernal pools in Georgia, but nothing on vernal pools specifically. It may be the vernal pools are rare or nonexistent in the southeast of the United States.


Kalamazoo Vernal Pool Monitoring Workshop (April 6, 2019)

The Northwest

Vernal Pool Flora of the Pacific Northwest

The West

Panhandler Playa Lakes

Playa Lakes

Ecological Communities of Playa Lakes

California’s Vernal Pools

California Vernal Pools

City of San Diego Vernal Pool Habitat Conservation Plan – October 2017

Books on Vernal Pools

Here are some books on vernal pools available on

For kids

[amazon_link asins=’1590782534′ template=’ProductGrid’ store=’connectingw0b-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6691c01a-9c4a-4b0e-bd5a-f68e3a4551b6′]

For Adults – most of these books are college texts.

[amazon_link asins=’0939923912,B003WPBFIG,0849336759,1606350811′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’connectingw0b-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c2aef8b7-bc19-476e-9f29-b691befcae47′]


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