Developing an Effective Approach for Identifying and Mapping Vernal Pools

Developing an Effective Approach for Identifying and Mapping Vernal Pools in Michigan (ADV)
Yu Man Lee, Helen Enander, Daria Hyde, Michigan Natural Features Inventory; Laura Bourgeau-Chavez, Michigan Tech Research Institute of Michigan Technological University
Additional Contributors: Peter Badra, Michael Monfils, Edward Schools; Michael Penskar (retired), Michigan Natural Features Inventory; Michael Battaglia, Sarah Endres, Michigan Tech Research Institute of Michigan Technological University

Vernal pools are small, temporary bodies of water or wetlands that form in shallow depressions in forested areas throughout Michigan. Vernal pools are important to the biodiversity and health of Michigan's forests as they provide habitat for a number of wildlife species and contribute other ecosystem services including nutrient cycling, water storage and infiltration and groundwater recharge. Vernal pools can be difficult to identify on the landscape and receive little or no protection under current wetland regulations. Many of these wetlands have been lost or degraded, which could impact the resilience of Michigan's forests and communities. Little is known about the status and distribution of vernal pools across Michigan. We investigated the effectiveness of aerial photograph interpretation, radar and predictive modeling using GIS for detecting and mapping vernal pools in forested landscapes. A summary and evaluation of the effectiveness of these different methods for mapping vernal pools will be presented.

Yu Man Lee, Michigan Natural Features Inventory
Yu Man Lee is a conservation scientist with the Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI), a program of Michigan State University Extension. Her primary areas of responsibility at MNFI include conducting surveys, research and monitoring for rare amphibians and reptiles across the state; helping to maintain Michigan's Natural Heritage Database; and providing technical assistance to inform biodiversity conservation and management in Michigan. Her recent projects include identifying, mapping and assessing vernal pools on state and national forest lands; conducting inventories for rare amphibian and reptile species on state game areas; monitoring the federally threatened copperbelly watersnake using occupancy modeling; assessing climate change vulnerability of rare species; and conducting a wood turtle nest protection and habitat improvement project. Prior to joining MNFI in 1997, Yu Man received a BS in natural resources from the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources and an MS in wildlife science from Oregon State University.

Helen Enander, Michigan Natural Features Inventory
Helen Enander has a BA in biology and an MS in geography and has been a GIS analyst at the Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) for fourteen years. Helen has done further graduate work in geographic information science, spatial analysis and spatial statistics at Michigan State University. In a previous life, she was a dairy farmer in South Dakota.

Daria Hyde, Michigan Natural Features Inventory
Daria Hyde has worked at Michigan Natural Features Inventory for 20 years as a conservation scientist conducting surveys and promoting the protection of Michigan's rare species and natural communities. Daria has developed and delivered educational materials, programs and products to promote greater understanding and protection of Michigan's declining wildlife species and natural communities, including books, species abstracts, conservation plans and green infrastructure plans. She has conducted applied research focused on biodiversity conservation and has worked with agencies, local units of government and other interested parties to help them incorporate natural resource protection into their planning efforts. Recently she has worked with partners to develop citizen science programs to increase the capacity of local stewards to conduct surveys and monitor threats to plant and animals within Michigan's native communities. Daria received a BS in wildlife management from Michigan State University and an MS in conservation biology from Central Michigan University.

Laura Bourgeau-Chavez, Michigan Tech Research Institute of Michigan Technological University
Laura Bourgeau-Chavez is a landscape ecologist who has been studying wetlands in the Great Lakes and other regions for over 15 years. Her expertise in field surveying and remote sensing has led to many large mapping projects including the mapping of the distribution of large stands of invasive Phragmites australis on the United States coastal Great Lakes in 2010 and using multiple sensor fusion to map all wetland types and land use in the entire Great Lakes coastal basin (US and Canada) in 2014. Her current work includes detection and mapping of vernal pools in the state of Michigan using imaging radar and Lidar data. Dr. Bourgeau-Chavez received her PhD in forest ecology from University of New Brunswick in 2014.