Hydrology of Maine Vernal Pools

Tadpoles in cupped handsInstitution: University of Maine
Sponsor: Maine Water Resources Research Institute through the Mitchell Center

Groundwater exchange and hydrologic variability of central
Maine’s seasonally ponded woodland pools

Vernal Pools are discrete seasonal wetlands that provide critical habitat for species adapted to ephemeral water regimes and are ecologically linked to surrounding terrestrial environments. Hydrology creates the unique conditions needed to form and sustain vernal pool systems, but few studies have described their hydrology. To predict the consequences of development on vernal pools and to make informed decisions that balance wetland conservation and human needs, it is imperative for resource managers and other stakeholders to understand the hydrologic linkages between vernal pools and the surrounding environment. Work for this project culminates with the creation of water budgets for vernal pools that span a range of hydrogeologic settings. Specifically, we will focus on quantifying the role of groundwater exchange with vernal pools. The water budget we create will also provide information on the hydrologic processes operating in the surrounding forest, and will form a basis for monitoring for hydrologic changes induced by shifting climate patterns or altered land use.  This work will: 1) provide data on the recharge and discharge function of vernal pools, 2) the importance of groundwater to vernal pool water budgets, 3) describe the hydrologic footprint associated with vernal pools in different hydrogeologic settings, and 4) document the variability of hydrologic processes associated with vernal pools and the surrounding forest in central Maine.

Team Members:

  • Andrew Reeve, School of Earth & Climate Sciences, UMaine (Team Leader)
  • Aram Calhoun, Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries and Conservation Biology, UMaine
  • Krista Capps, UMaine

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