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Top-Selling & Popular Titles ~ Environmental Education ~ Natural History ~ Natural Resources & Conservation

Vernal Pools

- Natural History and Conservation

by Elizabeth A. Colburn (Click for author info)

$34.95 Softcover
ISBN 0-939923-91-2; 978-0-939923-91-5
$44.95 Hardcover
ISBN 0-939923-92-0; 978-0-939923-92-2

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Vernal Pools is the first book-length synthesis of the natural history, ecology, and conservation of the seasonally wet pools that occur throughout the formerly glaciated region of eastern North America -- essentially the Great Lakes Basin, New England, and adjacent areas of Canada and the United States. Introductory chapters define vernal pools; provide overviews of their formation and physical-chemical-hydrological characteristics; and present data critical for assessing, regulating, and managing pool ecosystems. The chapters that immediately follow the introduction explore the biology of microscopic life forms such as bacteria, algae, and fungi and the great variety of higher plants associated with vernal pools. The next chapters delve into the descriptions, distributions, habitat requirements and life-history strategies of pool animals, and the ecological processes and patterns associated with the composition and dynamics of pool communities over time. A final chapter discusses research needs and conservation considerations that are a part of the ongoing effort to recognize, understand, protect, and manage vernal pools as viable elements in the landscape of eastern North America. An extensive appendix identifies all animals that have been reported from vernal pools of the region and describes their habitat requirements, geographic distribution, and life history characteristics. Technical terms related to vernal pools are defined in a glossary. An extensive bibliography contains a vast listing of published literature, websites, and unpublished reports.

Vernal Pools is a well organized, substantive, readily accessible resource that will be greatly valued by hydrologists, biologists, naturalists, environmental educators, interpreters, resource managers, citizen scientists, and policy makers. The book presents detailed information about the ecology of vernal pools systems, and discusses important research, conservation, and policy needs for pools to be better understood, protected, and managed. The lengthy bibliography will be an indispensable asset to any reader, beginner or advanced, interested in locating sources of information about vernal pools.

Information in Vernal Pools has widespread applicability. As the author explains,

"Temporary pools are found worldwide. Seasonally flooded habitats and their faunas share many common features, whether they occur in deserts, prairies, large river floodplains, alpine meadows, or temperate forests. In this book I concentrate on woodland vernal pools of the glaciated northeastern third of North America--'the glaciated northeast' (Figure 1)."


"while the focus is on the glaciated northeast, much of the information on habitat characteristics and biota of northeastern vernal pools applies to temporary waters elsewhere. Physical features of temporary pools are similar along the Central Atlantic Coastal Plain, in northwestern North America, in the southeastern United States, and in Europe. Many of the species of amphibians and invertebrates found here range south through the Mid- Atlantic states to northern Florida and west to the Mississippi River, and closely related species occur farther west. In addition, seasonal cycles and life history adaptations seen in northeastern vernal pools are paralleled in prairie potholes, desert rainpools, Carolina Bays, and snowmelt pools in tundra regions of the far north and high altitudes."

And, regarding conservation issues,

"The problems facing vernal pools in the glaciated northeast have parallels elsewhere. The details differ from one geographic area to another, but the same fundamental conservation issues pertain to temporary waters in southern pine forests, prairies, montane meadows, bottomland floodplains, desert playas or canyons, or northeastern deciduous woodlands, whether they are in Australia, Europe, Africa, or North America. Indeed, the conservation of amphibians, reptiles, and macroinvertebrates that need a habitat mosaic of small, isolated breeding pools plus large areas of upland is of global interest. Temporary waters everywhere are threatened by habitat alteration or destruction, and by the introduction of species that compete with or prey on pool-dependent wildlife. Conservation professionals worldwide are working to identify effective ways to protect temporary pools."

Vernal Pools: Natural History and Conservation:

-Is the first comprehensive, book-length synthesis of the natural history, ecology, and conservation of vernal pools;
-Emphasizes the pools in and near the formerly glaciated regions of northeastern North America, but also is a major source of information about the nature and needs of pools in other regions;
-Provides detailed, yet readily accessible information about the physical and biological content, structure, and function of vernal pool ecosystems;
-Addresses the conservation and research needs of vernal pools within the broader context of the conservation of biodiversity and wetlands;
-Contains a detailed glossary of technical terms;
-Contains a richly detailed appendix describing the distribution, habitat preferences, and life histories of the fauna of vernal pools;
-Contains an extensive bibliography on vernal pools.

The audience for this book is broad and includes:

-Environmental educators;
-Water quality monitors and regulators;
-Water resource managers;
-Freshwater biologists and ecologists;
-Landscape architects working with water bodies and systems;
-Environmental consultants working with freshwater systems.

The audience for this book is deep and includes:

-The formal education system – junior high school through the university level;
-All natural historians dealing with freshwater resources and ecosystems;
-Federal, state, and local agencies involved with monitoring, managing, studying, or teaching about freshwater resources;
-Citizen scientists and private businesses studying, monitoring, managing, designing, protecting, or teaching about freshwater ecosystems.