The future of woodland pools

Woodland pools are temporary wetlands that provide important habitat to forest wildlife. They also help mitigate floods. While land development is a major threat to woodland pools, there are also subtle changes that undermine their health.

In woodland pools, the food web is fueled by leaves, which enter pools from overhanging trees. Lack of forest regeneration due to overabundant deer ... and the loss of trees due to insect pests, such as the emerald ash borer ... may limit the amount of leaves falling into pools.

Climate change is driving changes in precipitation and temperature that can alter the amount of time woodland pools persist. If pools dry too quickly—frogs and salamanders can die before they can fully develop. If they last too long, and fish become established, the pools are no longer suitable habitat for breeding amphibians.

Temperature initiates amphibian breeding activity. And early breeding could disrupt the way woodland pools function.

"For fifteen years we've been monitoring the first calling activity of spring peepers, a tiny woodland frog."

Gary Lovett is a senior scientist at the Cary Institute...

We measure a temperature index that's associated with the date of fist calling of the peepers. And in the long term temperature records, we found that that index has been getting earlier."

The more people care about woodland pools, the more hope we have for preserving them. This spring, experience their magic first hand. Go outside, take a hike in the woods, and let your ears guide you.

Produced in collaboration with WAMC Northeast Public Radio, this podcast originally aired on April 4, 2013. To access a full archive of Earth Wise podcasts, visit:

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies | Millbrook, New York 12545 | Tel (845) 677-5343

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