Vernal Pool Animals

As well as the California Tiger Salamander, you can find other amphibians in vernal pools as well as some crustaceons.

Fairy ShrimpVernal Pool Fairy Shrimp

The Vernal Pool Fairy Shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi) is also specially adapted for vernal pool life and is also a threatened species.

Vernal Pool Fairy Shrimp
(Branchinecta lynchi)
Courtesy, US Fish & Wildlife Service

What kinds of animals can you find at vernal pools?

As well as the California Tiger Salamander, there are many other kinds of animals that are specially adapted to life in vernal pools. Like the salamanders, these creatures are also very happy that no fish live in vernal pools. This gives them a much better chance of not being eaten for lunch!

The Vernal Pool Fairy Shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi) is one such animal. These tiny (1 inch) shrimp live their entire lives in the pool. They hatch in the early spring and live only until the pond dries up. Before they die, the females drop egg casings onto the bottom of the pond. These egg casings remain dormant through the summer and the autumn until the rains return to fill up the pool. The egg casings are very tough and are not easily digestible by animals who might eat them. The animals may move to other ponds and pass the egg casings out in their droppings. This helps the fairy shrimp spread to new vernal pools. Vernal Pool Fairy Shrimp are known as obligateObligate Species

An obligate vernal pool species is one that must live part of its life in a vernal pool. Its presence mean that a particular pond is a vernal pool
vernal pool species because they can only survive in a vernal pool. If you find these shrimp, you know that the pond is a vernal pool!

Pacific Tree FrogPacific Tree Frog

Pacific tree frogs (Pseudacris regilla) have already been spotted at the vernal pools in the Stanford foothills! We hope that the salamanders will join them.

Pacific Tree Frog
(Pseudacris regilla)
Courtesy Gary Nafis,

The Pacific Tree Frog (Pseudacris regilla) is another amphibianAmphibian

A cold-blooded creature that has gills when young, but loses its gills and develops lungs when it reaches maturity
that spends part of its life in a vernal pool. These frogs are quite small, only growing to about two inches. They are quite fortunate that they can survive in other places besides vernal pools, but the vernal pool is a good place for them nevertheless. Even though we commonly call this frog a tree frog, it is actually a chorus frog and is well known all around California for the 'concerts' it likes to give in the evenings!

Other obligate vernal species that can be found in vernal pools in California are the threatened Vernal Pool Tadpole Shrimp (Lepidurus packardi), the Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica) and the threatened Western Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus hammondii).

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Do the vernal pools in the Stanford foothills look like the other ones we see here?
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Here you can find out what a vernal pool is and why vernal pools are vanishing. Also, you will find out what kind of creatures like vernal pools … and what kinds don't.
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Is there a reason that these plants were chosen?