Vernal ponds are enclosed depressions that are natural or man-made. They can hold water for at least two consecutive months in one year. Because of this, vernal ponds are not the best habitat for breeding fish populations. However, vernal ponds do provide a home to many other species that include amphibians, insects, reptiles, plants, and other wildlife. The absence of fish is what makes this kind of ecosystem very unique.
Since fish are known to be highly predatory on amphibian eggs and larvae, the vernal pond would provide a safe environment for salamanders and frogs. As a result, these species of salamanders and frogs took advantage of this fish-less body of water.
Species that are dependent upon vernal ponds are known as "obligate vernal pond breeders." In New Jersey, there are seven species (5 salamanders and 2 frogs) that fit this category. Another fourteen of New Jersey's amphibians also use vernal pools for breeding, but unlike the “obligate vernal pond breeders”, these species can reproduce in habitats that contain fish. These species are known as "facultative vernal pond breeders."
Obligate Vernal Pond Breeding Amphibians (7):
Eastern Tiger Salamander
Eastern Spadefoot Toad
FacultativeVernal Pond Breeding Amphibians (14):
Southern Leopard Frog
Northern Spring Peeper
Northern Cricket Frog
New Jersey Chorus Frog
Upland Chorus Frog
Northern Gray Treefrog
Southern Gray Treefrog
Pine Barrens Treefrog