Biologists on the hunt for vernal pools at Middlesex Fells Reservation

Matt Burne and his son Mason, 10, examine a net looking for evidence that a pond in the Middlesex Fells Reservation is vernal.
Matt Burne and his son Mason, 10, examine a net looking for evidence that a pond in the Middlesex Fells Reservation is vernal. Credit: Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

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Biologist Matt Burne, vice president of the Vernal Pool Association and conservation director for the Walden Woods Project, is participating in the first formal vernal pool survey of the Middlesex Fells Reservation, which he initiated in the spring of 2012.

Vernal pools, small temporary ponds that fill with water in fall and spring and typically dry up by late summer, are found throughout Massachusetts and serve as breeding areas for a variety of amphibians, including salamanders, frogs, and toads, as well as insects and other invertebrates. Some of these animals, like spotted salamanders and wood frogs, are fairly common, while others, such as spadefoot toads and marbled salamanders, are endangered in Massachusetts. Whether rare or abundant, vernal pool organisms rely on these ephemeral wetlands as a critical part of their life cycle, making vernal pools an important conservation target.

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