Maine Vernal Pools
This web site was designed to provide information on vernal pools for the people of Maine.
You will find a variety of resources on vernal pool ecology, the animals that breed in and use vernal pools, an explanation of state and federal regulations pertaining to vernal pools, and materials developed to assist you with field assessments and local mapping projects.
Featured Scientist - Kris
Kristine Hoffmann is a PhD Candidate in the
Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation
Biology. Kris grew up in a vernal pool, and is a
herpetologist at heart. She is passionate about the
salamanders she works with, as well education and
Kris’ research focuses on the habitat use and
breeding ecology of the blue-spotted salamander
complex. In Maine, most of the information we use to
manage vernal pools comes from studies on wood frogs
and spotted salamanders. We know little about the
third amphibian indicator species, the blue-spotted
salamander, and even less about a fourth lineage of
amphibian, the unisexual salamander. The latter is
an all-female, “hybrid” lineage that does not meet
the traditional definition of a species. Unisexuals
are different from other Maine amphibians in that
they 1)bear the DNA of both blue-spotted salamanders
and Jefferson salamanders, 2) are polyploid, meaning
they have either 3 or 4 copies of each chromosome,
and 3) must take sperm from a different species to
stimulate their eggs to develop. Kris is working to
fill in some of the holes in our knowledge of these
2 salamanders. Through a combination of traps, radio
telemetry, and genetic work, she has set out to
learn about the breeding ecology and habitat
selection of blue-spotted salamanders and unisexual
salamanders in Maine. Only once we have a background
understanding of the complex can we begin to develop
ways to conserve both salamanders for future
Small-scale movement mechanisms: Britt uses fluorescent powder and lab studies to assess the factors that may influence juvenile wood frog movements in field settings. Here, she is measuring the lengths of individual hops for a juvenile wood frog in response to a simulated predator in the lab.
Kris is also heavily involved in wildlife
education and outreach. Kris has hosted a film crew
from National Geographic at her field sites, and has
been featured in a segment by Main Public
Broadcasting Network and on the local Fox News.
Kris has spoken to variety of audiences in
the classroom and the forest, including the Girl
Scouts, UMaine undergraduate courses, Maine Master
Naturalist Program, Montessouri School, Senior
College, Piscataquis County High School, Eastern
Maine Community College, and the Orono Land Trust,
among others. She participated in the 2014
Environthon and the Children’s’ Water Festival, and
has been heavily involved with the Student Chapter
of the Wildlife Society to provide internships and
experience to its members. In her spare time, Kris
is creating a coloring guidebook for children that
will eventually be available on this site.
Kris Hoffmann (squatting) leads a field trip of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology first year students.
Hoffmann surgically implanting a radio transmitter inside a
unisexual blue-spotted salamander.
“Maine Verna Pools Still Revealing New Secrets”. Maine Things Considered. 5 Aug 2013.
“Researcher Studying Conservation of Blue Spotted Salamander”. Fox 22 Local News. 10 July 2013.
“Doctoral Research Focuses on the Favorite Sites of the Blue-Spotted Salamander”.
Celebrating the End of the Blue-Spotted Salamander Drift Fence
The blue-spotted salamander illustration in Kris’ coloring guidebook.