Transforming a Pine Stand into a Wildlife Haven

Providing a diverse environment for various species involves thoughtful planning and execution. This awesome video explores the creation of a vernal pool to support amphibian breeding and enhance biodiversity.

Coming to you from Stefano Ianiro, this informative video walks through the process of building a vernal pool in a pine stand. This project began with thinning the pines and preparing for a wildflower meadow. Ianiro noticed that creating varied ground cover with logs, branches, and leaves would benefit smaller wildlife, especially amphibians. The goal was to provide them with a breeding site free from fish, which often predate on amphibian eggs and larvae.

Ianiro points out the stark contrast between the trout pond and the forest pond on his property. While the trout pond sees minimal amphibian breeding due to the presence of fish, the forest pond thrives with various frog and salamander species. To offer amphibians a safer breeding site near the pine stand, Ianiro decided to build a second, smaller pond – a vernal pool. Vernal pools are temporary water bodies that dry up partway through the year, perfect for species that need a few months to complete their life cycles.

Ianiro chose a grassy area at the front of the lot, where water naturally flows during snowmelt and heavy rain, as the site for the vernal pool. Using a backhoe, he and his family dug the main pool and created shallow depressions to manage water flow and minimize erosion. They built a small dam with the excavated soil and added branches and leaves to support egg-laying and provide cover.

The pool's shallow depth also promotes faster warming, which accelerates the development of eggs and larvae. This rapid development is crucial for amphibians to complete their lifecycle before the pool dries up in late summer.

Ianiro's efforts extend beyond just amphibians. The vernal pool and its surroundings are seeded with native grasses and wildflowers, creating a rich habitat for various species. Additionally, he hopes the exposed mud along the pond's bank will attract Cliff Swallows and Barn Swallows, which use mud to build their nests. This feature could encourage these birds to nest on the property, adding another layer of biodiversity.

The video also touches on the importance of monitoring and adapting the environment. Ianiro plans to observe how the vernal pool holds water and whether additional water from the trout pond might be necessary during dry spells. He also discusses installing a bat box near the pool, hoping to attract bats to help control insect populations. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Ianiro.

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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