Importance of Vernal Pools

Welcome to the Cathance River Preserve! This self-guided tour will show you everything the preserve has to offer, from beautiful natural sites to a rich history linked with the Topsham area. We hope you enjoy your visit today and return to explore the rest of the preserve in the future!

Our first stop is the largest of many vernal pools that can be found on the preserve, off to your left. A vernal pool is a body of water that changes size as the year progresses, growing with spring rain and shrinking in the summer heat. Some vernal pools dry up due to their small size, although the pool you stand near retains water year-round.

A key feature of vernal pools is the absence of fish, which creates a safe haven for amphibians’ and invertebrates’ (bugs!) eggs (i.e. they won’t be fish food). Nevertheless, a lot of predation – on eggs and tiny creatures – takes place in these pools.

This pool is home to multiple species of frogs, turtles, dragonflies, damselflies, and other insects. Vernal pools are protected in many areas because this habitat is so essential to these creatures.

Before you continue on the Highland Trail, take a moment to stand on the dock overlooking the vernal pool. Watch and listen for the inhabitants of the vernal pool going about their lives.