Vernal pools in the Northeastern United States are small, forested wetlands characterized by ephemeral flooding. These unique ecosystems provide critical habitat for both terrestrial and aquatic organisms, abate seasonal flooding, and are biogeochemical hotspots. Vernal pools may be created to maintain key ecosystem services associated with loss of natural wetlands. In many instances, however, created pools do not mimic the ecological functions and services of extant vernal pools due to shortcomings associated with the surrounding land use and canopy cover, hydrology, or invasion by opportunistic plants. Because of the importance of these systems to regional biodiversity, understanding the conditions required for adequate restoration of ecosystem function is imperative. The goal of this thesis was to determine differences in physico-chemical and biological properties between created and natural wetlands and to experimentally manipulate light availability and litter input in created pools to evaluate the importance of canopy cover in establishing desired ecosystem functions in created vernal pools. This study took place in natural (n=4) and created (n=8) vernal pools at High Acres Nature Area in Perinton, NY. Natural pools received over three times more carbon input from leaf litter and had greater light availability than created pools. The macroinvertebrate and plant communities were also markedly different, with a striking lack of invasive plants in natural pools. There were no significant differences in soil phosphorous or ammonium, but there were differences in surface water concentrations of the respective nutrients. Invasive species regrowth was limited in pools with experimental canopy shade, suggesting the potential for artificial canopy cover to limit invasion by undesirable plants, help to promote biodiversity, and aid in successful wetland restoration.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Vernal pools-- New York (State)

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Environmental Science (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences (COS)


Anna Christina Tyler

Advisor/Committee Member

Elizabeth N. Hane

Advisor/Committee Member

Solon Morse


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at QH541.5.P63 B78 2015


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