Vernal Pools in Forested Ecosystems

Recommendations for Protection and Management

Vernal pools play a beneficial role in forest ecosystem health. Inconspicuous at first glance, these small wetlands contribute more to forested ecosystems than what meets the eye. Vernal pools are essential components of the northern temperate forest by playing a significant role in the food chain, offering breeding, feeding, and shelter sites for a diverse array of species, and providing important ecosystem services. These small, but mighty seasonal wetlands...

  • provide habitat for over 550 animal species;
  • are nutrient cycling hotspots in forested ecosystems;
  • attenuate the flow of surface water, therefore providing flood and erosion control;
  • are critical breeding habitat for forest-dwelling amphibians and invertebrates; and
  • promote good water quality.

Protecting vernal pools and being aware of how changes in the surrounding forest affect them is important in maintaining a healthy and resilient forest ecosystem.

MVPP Partners (Michigan Nature Association, MSU Extension, and Michigan Natural Features Inventory) have assembled a list of voluntary measures you use to help support vernal pools, local water quality, and the amphibian populations that rely on these small wetlands.


Do you work with landowners and/or land managers?

This resource is available for distribution thanks to the Land Trust Alliance. The two-sided print handout will provide background in the role that vernal pools play in forests and suggest land management practices for forest owners and managers to support populations of species that rely on vernal pool habitat. The purpose of this handout is to provide...

  • A helpful guide to vernal pool protection and management for forest owners who want to manage their property for vernal pools 

  • An education and outreach tool for resource managers to engage private landowners in vernal pool conservation

  • A reference tool for folks who are advocating for vernal pools at risk to development in their neighborhood


Questions can be directed to


Best Management Practices for Amphibian and Reptile Conservation

Developed by MVPP partners, Herpetological Resource Management and MI Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy created a free and accessible resource that provides comprehensive information on how to maintain and improve the herpetofauna populations of Michigan.

Read more on the resource and download the manual for free on HRM's website here:

"This BMP manual is a Michigan-focused guide that provides specific recommendations to regulators, agency land managers, consultants, commercial and residential developers, and private citizens to protect, preserve, and restore the herpetofauna of Michigan."