Vernal Pool Monitoring Program


The Vernal Pool Monitoring Program aims to increase awareness of vernal pools and to map and monitor vernal pools in West Virginia. Vernal pools, sometimes known as ephemeral pools or ponds, are seasonal wetlands that form during the late fall, winter, and early spring. Fall rain and snow, and early spring snow melt, fills depressions in the forest floor, creating shallow pools that many amphibians use to lay their eggs. In West Virginia, wood frogs, spotted salamanders, Jefferson salamanders, toads, and spring peepers all visit vernal pools to breed and deposit eggs. The young develop in the vernal pools until they emerge and spend their adult lives in the surrounding forest habitat. Then, they return to these same pools to breed in following years.

Contact Us

Callie Cronin Sams, Save Our Streams Coordinator
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection
Division of Water and Waste Management
47 School Street
Philippi, WV 26476
Office Phone: (304) 341-6095
Cell Phone: (304) 341-9305

Workshop participants observe a vernal pool near Buckeye, Pocahontas County (April, 2023)  
Workshop participants observe a vernal pool near Buckeye, Pocahontas County (April, 2023)
Egg masses in a vernal pool  
Egg masses in a vernal pool
A vernal pool with vegetation in the early summer  
A vernal pool with vegetation in the early summer

Training Workshops

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), in collaboration with the State Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) and the United States Geological Survey Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (USGS ARMI), is excited to announce a series of Vernal Pool Monitoring Workshops set to take place across the state in 2024. These workshops aim to educate participants about the vital role of vernal pools in local ecosystems and train them in monitoring techniques to support amphibian conservation efforts.


Vernal Pool Amphibian and Macroinvertebrate Videos

Check out Frank’s Field Guide, produced by Frank Gebhard of Friends of Blackwater! You’ll find loads of great salamander videos, plus additional videos on wetlands and the Blackwater Canyon area.

Would you like to see vernal pool aquatic life up close, underwater? Check out these amazing videos produced by Dr. Andrew Hoffman, John Buffington, and Zach Truelock at the Life Underfoot YouTube Channel.

50+ Jefferson Salamanders Trapped in Frozen Pond!


Jefferson salamanders use vernal pools to breed and lay eggs. Learn how they can survive for days or weeks underwater when the vernal pool freezes over. Topics include: vernal pools, amphibians, cutaneous respiration, dissolved oxygen availability and variation by water temperature.

100+ Spotted Salamanders in a Vernal Pool!


This video provides an overview of vernal pool ecology and presents beautiful underwater footage of spotted salamanders, fairy shrimp, and other vernal pool macroinvertebrates. Topics include: vernal pools, importance of fish absence, salamanders returning to the same vernal pool, macroinvertebrate and fairy shrimp, spermatophores and amphibian life cycle.

Marbled Salamanders are Protective Mothers!


Vernal pools and their depressions are important habitats even during the fall dry period. This video introduces viewers to the marbled salamander, which uses vernal pool depressions to deposit their eggs in the moist soil and leaf litter. The larva will develop and emerge once the pool fills with water. This will give them a competitive advantage over the other salamanders, such as Jeffersons and spotted salamanders, who will arrive later. Topics include: vernal pools as amphibian nurseries, marbled salamanders fall breeding season, dry period of vernal pools, breeding season timing for competitive advantage. ​