November 2014

California’s vernal pools provide habitat for a suite of rare and endemic species and its continued loss highlights the importance of conservation and mitigation efforts. Due to the unique geologic and hydrologic characteristics required of vernal pool habitat, mitigation projects often result in the creation of new pools in natural vernal pool systems. However, little is known about the impact this alteration in spatial pattern of vernal pools may have on landscape ecology. This study aims to develop a better understanding of the effects of vernal pool creation on the spatial complexity of natural vernal pool systems at the landscape scale using FRAGSTATS, a spatial pattern analysis software. Spatial data collected by remote sensing for six vernal pool sites located in Butte, Placer, Sacramento, and Madera County in the California Central Valley serve as input for a spatial landscape pattern analysis using FRAGSTATS to calculate a suite of metrics to compare natural vernal pool systems with their mitigated states. This work is conducted in collaboration with Vollmar Natural Lands Consulting.

Graphic: Delineation of natural and created vernal pools at Foothill Park (Butte County).