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Hydropedology of Vernal Pool Systems

Principal Investigator/Project Leader: 
Co-Principal Investigator/Co-Project Leader: 
Department of Project: 
Stockbridge School of Agriculture
Project Description: 

Results from the proposed new NE multistate project will help us to develop an understanding of how vernal pool ecosystems differ across the region in distribution, hydrology, periods of inundation (hydroperiod), redox chemistry, and carbon storage, flux, and accounting. In addition, we will continue our region-wide focus on hydric soils and hydric indicators to determine if there is a need for additional hydric soil indicators for vernal pool ecosystems. We will use our data to develop empirical and spatial quantitative models to predict and represent the landscape distribution of vernal pools, and how climatic change may affect these wetland ecosystems. A continuation of this project will provide a forum to advance our knowledge of these systems and the associated soils and provide an outlet for the dissemination of our knowledge across the region to stakeholders that are seeking answers to their use, management, and restoration questions. Working within the proposed regional framework will allow for testing of hypotheses across climatic gradients, across parent material types (coastal plain, residual, and glacial), and among different types and settings of vernal pools. Testing these hypotheses is not possible for a single investigator working within a single state and must be done at the regional level. Addressing these questions within a regional framework is also critical because the major agencies that use the soils information that pedologists collect, such as USDA-NRCS, USACOE, USEPA, all work in a region-wide context. In addition, working groups such as the New England Hydric Soil Technical Committee and Mid-Atlantic Hydric Soils Committee, who offer guidance to regional regulatory bodies like the New England Water Pollution Control Commission (, need soils information that is not restricted by state boundaries.

Recent focus of the USACOE and other federal agencies to develop regional supplements as amendments to the 1987 Wetlands Delineation Manual (Environmental Laboratory, 1987) provide additional incentive to work region-wide in applied research. Data gathered, relationships that are established, and interpretations that are made are therefore much more meaningful to the user if the science was tested within a region-wide context. These studies also take advantage of the range of experiences and skills of the pedologists across the region.

Environmental Conservation topics: