2.28.2008

a little science lesson

As I left this morning I looked down and noticed that our crocuses are coming up! And not just a little bit. Could it be a sign that this interminable cold could someday end? Is spring on its way?

On a related note, I just ran across a bunch of drawings I did for a little educational book about vernal pools. I worked on it for an old job, along with my friend Andy (who coincidentally just emailed me to say hi. Hi Andy!) Andy and I also worked together on a book about wastewater treatment, but that's a story for another time... poop on a conveyor belt! wheee!

The annual migration of amphibians to vernal pools is my absolute favorite rite of spring. During the first rainy spring nights, the earliest emerging frogs & salamanders migrate to temporary woodland ponds that form from snow melt and rainwater. Think Serengeti wildebeest, but with salamanders, in the dark, in the rain. And maybe not quite so many, but a lot! So many that in some towns they set up roadblocks around high(salamander)-traffic crossing points, or install tunnels under the roads.

Vernal pools are critical habitat for a whole host of organisms, such as:

Spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum)
Wood frogs (Rana sylvatica)

and fairy shrimp (Eubranchipus spp.)
Yes! Shrimp! In the forest!
They survive all year long as little tiny eggs on the forest floor, then for two weeks in spring they hatch, grow, breed and die, and their eggs spend the next year hanging around in the leaf litter. I'm telling you, it's things like this that make me wonder:
Why doesn't EVERYONE want to be a biologist? Biology is just so awesome.

All of the other organisms that breed in the vernal pools have to hurry up & get to it as well, as they have to be grown and out of there before the water dries up. It's a mad dash.


For a real multi-media vernal pool experience you have to listen to Adam's story about amphibian migrations here. You can hear all the peepers & wood frogs go wild in the background.

3 comments:

madsp said...

These drawings are great Ginger! You should totally illustrate a science book for kids.

I love peeper frogs! When I lived in the woods they made the perfect lullaby.

I was also excited to see the bulbs come up. My hyacinths and daffodils are poking their way into the sun. I wrote a post about it a few weeks ago, I was so excited.

T-Dubb said...

I like how nerdy you are. How those bulbs doing today, after the snow?

kristy3m said...

Everyone can't be a biologist because those things give some of us...the willies.