It doesn't take an expert to monitor a vernal pool, just two enthusiastic citizen scientists with a few free mornings each spring and a willingness to learn something new.
At its heart, VPMon is nothing more than a corps of dedicated Vernal Pool Monitors. These are volunteers who (perhaps like you) want to be engaged in the conservation of the seasonally-shifting little patches of Vermont known as vernal pools. By adopting a pool near them, Monitors make a commitment to visit that spot 4 times each year (thrice in the spring and once in the fall) to set up equipment and collect data.
Exactly what data are we collecting? Good question! In addition to a few pieces of physical data (like the weather and how deep the pool is), Monitors keep track of:
- Frog call recordings — By setting up an audio recorder, we can automatically record when Wood Frogs and other noisy vernal pool species are chorusing
- Egg mass survey — There are four charismatic species of amphibian that like to lay their egg masses in vernal pools. By recognizing and counting these, Monitors give us a sense of the number of frogs and salamanders breeding in that vernal pool.
- Caddisfly larvae and Fairy Shrimp survey — Monitors keep an eye our for these two different kinds of macroinvertebrate, one highly common and the other quite rare.
- Hydroperiod — By setting out a small, automatic device called a HOBO logger, we can keep track
Intimidated by the idea of setting up a HOBO logger? Concerned about identifying the goopy blobs that are amphibian egg masses? It’s true that these aren’t the easiest tasks in the world, but the VPMon Coordinator will be there to walk you through each step of the process. As well, we highly encourage new volunteers to attend a VPMon training, where we’ll walk you through exactly what a vernal pool is and what you’d do as a Vernal Pool Monitor. Click here to see upcoming training dates.
If you’re interested in being a Vernal Pool Monitor, the first thing you can do is join the VPMon Google Group, which is our primary means of reaching out to all interested and current volunteers about VPMon trainings, updates, or events (and for volunteers to reach out to each other).
If you have a specific question or would like to be involved in VPMon, get in touch with Alex Wells at gro.s1566539707eidut1566539707socet1566539707v@sll1566539707ewa1566539707.