Ephemeral ponds

Not really a plant community, but a unique habitat worth mentioning, Ephemeral ponds, or ephemeral pools, are usually wooded or surrounded by trees.  Water accumulates in these depressions after snow melt and during the spring rains.  These basins are extremely important breeding areas for frogs, toads and salamanders because they are free of fish predators.  Water does not last long in these ponds and there is a race for the amphibians to grow and metamorphose into adults.  In addition to the amphibians, other unique species like fairy shrimp must quickly breed and deposit the next generation of eggs that will survive in the soil and leaf litter until the next spring.  Fairy shrimp and aquatic insects that specialize in these habitats feed the ravenous salamander larva.

Wetland plants that are found here are usually those that can tolerate the dry conditions that persist here for much of the year.  Being low in the landscape, some ephemeral ponds collect cool air, reducing the growing season.  Some may even be frost pockets, areas where frost can occur at any time of the year.  However, this is not a characteristic of most ephemeral ponds.