By ERIC FREEDMAN
Capital News Service
LANSING — Research at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is shedding light on the critical environmental role that shallow seasonal woodland pools of water play in supporting wildlife, a new study shows. Those isolated pools — technically called “vernal pools” — face direct threats from development and indirect threats from climate change, invasive species, habitat fragmentation, contaminated water and groundwater extraction, according to the study by scientists from Michigan Technological University. And those threats carry important ecological implications because such pools provide “important sources of food and water for upland terrestrial species, including bats, reptiles, small mammals and birds” in the Upper Peninsula, the study said. Vernal pools are shallow depressions that fill in the spring or fall but are dry during the summer and drought periods. Few laws protect them, and they’re not covered by the federal Clean Water Act.