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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 HoffmannK. Hoffmann

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 outreach.

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 generations.

Kris and Tom
Kris Hoffmann and Tom Hastings check the drift fence around a vernal pool for migrating blue-spotted salamanders.

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.

Kris 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.

blue-spotted salamander eggs vp in winter