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Ephemeral Pond



Element information

Overview

Ephemeral ponds are small fishless pools with impeded drainage, usually in forest landscapes, that hold water for a short time following snowmelt and spring rains but typically dry out by mid-summer. They flourish with productivity during their brief existence. Ephemeral ponds, also referred to as vernal pools, provide critical breeding habitat for invertebrates and many amphibians such as wood frogs and several salamanders, because they lack the fish that would typically prey on them, their egg masses and tadpoles. They also provide feeding, resting, and breeding habitat for songbirds and a source of food for many mammals and contribute in many ways to the biodiversity of a woodlot, forest stand, and the larger landscape.

Common wetland plants found in ephemeral ponds include yellow water crowfoot, mermaid weed, Canada bluejoint grass, floating manna grass, spotted cowbane, smartweeds, orange jewelweed, and sedges. Trees adjacent to ephemeral ponds provide a variety of benefits such as maintaining cool water temperatures, preventing premature drying, and contributing to the food web. The annual input of leaves from these trees help provide a detritus-based food source for a variety of invertebrates.

Photos



Ephemeral Pond  [Photo #7889]

Photo by Christina Isenring, WDNR.

Ephemeral Pond  [Photo #26050]

Ephemeral pond filled with spring rain and snowmelt in northern mesic forest.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor, WDNR.

Ephemeral Pond  [Photo #26052]

Ephemeral ponds provide important breeding habitat for many species of frogs and salamanders.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor, WDNR.

Ephemeral Pond  [Photo #2832]

Ephemeral pond within a Northern Mesic Forest, Flambeau River State Forest, Price County.

Photo by Drew Feldkirchner, WDNR.

Ephemeral Pond  [Photo #2833]

Ephemeral pond within a Northern Mesic Forest, Flambeau River State Forest, Price County.

Photo by Drew Feldkirchner, WDNR.


Last revised: Thursday, June 17, 2021