Drive by a local wetland on an early spring evening, and if you're lucky you'll hear a harbinger of the changing season - the clear chirping chorus of tiny frogs known as spring peepers, classified by biologists as Pseudacris crucifer.
In early spring, shortly after the snow melts, vernal pools dot the landscape. Isolated from larger water bodies, these small wetlands are usually only wet for a few months out of the year. If you are not paying attention, you just might miss them. And that would be a shame, because these oft-overlooked wetlands are valuable and interesting ecosystems.
Cary Institute ecologist Dr. Shannon L. LaDeau is working to understand how environmental conditions influence the spread of undesirable pests and pathogens such as West Nile virus and the hemlock wooly adelgid. This work includes understanding the dynamics of pest communities and taking into account things like land use, climate change, and combined stressors.