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Tim has been interested in photography for many years. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Biology and a Master's in Environmental Science. Writing nature articles allows him to combine his interest in photography and nature into one medium.

Review of the book “A Field Guide to the Animals of Vernal Pools”


A Field Guide to the Animals of Vernal Pools authored by Leo P. Kenney and Matthew R. Burne is a 77 page, spiral bound, reference book on, as the name suggests, animals of vernal pools.  The book’s focus is on vernal pools located in Massachusetts.  However, I believe this book could be used in most, if not all, of the northeastern United States.

So what is a vernal pool?  It’s basically a wetland that forms in the late winter and spring, but usually dries up in the summer.  Certain animals, such as some species of amphibians, reptiles, and various insects, thrive in these conditions.

 Structure of the Book

The book is divided into the following sections:

  • Introduction
    • Why this book?
    • What is a vernal pool?
    • Indicator Species
    • Vernal pool protection in Massachusetts
    • Life in a vernal pool
    • Importance of vernal pools
    • Human impacts on vernal pools
    • Visiting a vernal pool
  • Pictorial guide to the adult amphibians and reptiles of Massachusetts (MA)
    • Adult frogs of MA
    • Adult salamanders of MA
    • Egg masses of the wood frog and NE mole salamanders
    • Adult snakes of MA
    • Adult turtles of MA
  • Vernal Pool Animal Accounts
    • Frogs
    • Salamanders
    • Snakes
    • Turtles
    • Invertebrates
  • Suggested References
  • Scientific names and common names of the amphibians and reptiles of MA
  • Notes
  • Index

What I Thought of the Book

This is one of those field guides that was designed correctly from the ground up.  Three of my favorite things about the book are:  1)  It’s spiral bound, so it’s easy to turn to the page you want and easy to read and carry in the field;  2)  The pages seem to have a coating on them that would probably resist some moisture;  3)  There are many, many photographs and very good descriptions for every animal in the book.

The information presented is clear and interesting and the book is well laid out and makes logical sense.  At first, 77 pages might not seem like enough to cover these topic thoroughly.  However, the authors and publishers have packed lots of information on each page.  This is great for the field because it keeps the weight and size of the book down, but provides all the information you need.

The book is focused on Massachusetts, so there may be some differences in animal species in other states.  But, I think most species will be the same or similar in other northeastern states.


I love this book.  It’s one of the few books that I can find little or no fault.  It would be great if the authors would write additions for other states as well, but for now, this is the book I’ll be taking on my photography trips to vernal pools for animal identification.

To find out more about vernal pools and the book A Field Guide to the animals of Vernal Pools, visit the Vernal Pool Association.


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